I Love You, Natalie


Hi! Is this thing on? Seriously, everyone, please quiet down just for a sec. OK?! Hiii!!! Yay!

I’m Bethany-Lynn, aka Natalie’s best friend in the world, aka the *maid of honor* at this ole shindig. When Natalie told me I was going to be giving a speech, I was nervous. Then she told me I couldn’t mention anything we did between 2005 and 2009, and I was like, “Well, what the heck am I even gonna talk about?! There goes all the fun stuff!” Seriously, we never go out anymore, but tonight is gonna be a return. To. Form.

Natalie and I have been best friends for almost 13 years, since I spotted her across the cafeteria, and I was like, “Wow, that girl would be absolutely gorgeous if she ordered some Proactiv and really followed the regimen.” But that’s so Natalie, she doesn’t care what anyone thinks. She’s an iconoclast in the truest sense. And I immediately wanted to help her because, as we all know, Natalie has this sort of childlike quality that makes you want to nurture her, like a baby bird that’s been dropped in the road with no mother and no wings. And it’s really charmed the fellas, hasn’t it? But the fact is, Natalie is more than capable. Capable of murder! Ahahahah. But seriously, from the minute we met, I knew Natalie was my girl for life. We became a tribe of two, us against the world. Even when we fought, we knew that it couldn’t last, because then we would have no friends.

You may know that Natalie was a little bit of a *bad girl* in her day, so senior year of high school was a real experience to say the least. Natalie’s amazing mom, Mary-Ellen — give it up for Mary-Ellen, how hot does she look tonight? — called me almost every weekend screaming, “Where the heck is Natalie?! I haven’t seen her in days! Where the heck is she, Bethany-Lynn?!”

And I always said, “Calm down, Mary-Ellen, she is most definitely *not* with our substitute math teacher at a Days Inn near City Hall. Chill it out, mami!”

But seriously, our 20s drew us even closer together. As Natalie climbed the ranks at the digital marketing firm, despite a not-*great* college GPA, I struggled to get a job in food service and lived on a string of couches since, as you all know, my parents have been dead since I was five. Natalie decided it would be better for our friendship if I didn’t stay with her at her luxury two-bedroom condo in the arts district.

So one night I sat on a park bench a block from her house while I waited for my acquaintance Jim to call me back and tell me if I could sleep at the foot of his Murphy bed, like a mangy terrier. Boundaries are something Natalie has always been really good at, and I respect that. She keeps people at a healthy distance, never yeses them to death, never yeses them at all. That is, until she met Bryon. Immediately, all bets were off, and he was living with her within two weeks, sharing her bed, her life, and her everything. Even things you may not want to share. Things that you may have picked up on your birthright trip to Israel from a guy named Avi.

Bryon is one of the hottest, nicest, coolest people who have *ever lived*. I would know because I actually met him first, at a Monday Night Football party at O’Berrigan’s. I fell off my stool, one hundred percent not because of drunkenness but just because it was a bad stool, and he rushed over to help me up. What followed was an amazing five-hour conversation. I told him about losing my whole family in a forest fire, and he talked about how his religious beliefs have evolved since he started CrossFit, and I was just like, “Wow, this is the kind of person you could spend a whole life learning about and loving and taking care of in sickness and health and whatever.” That’s why I invited him to come with me to Natalie’s sexy bowling b-day party the next weekend, and that’s how he and Natalie met. SO CONGRATS TO ME! Certainly my reward awaits me in heaven. As do my parents, if I’m to believe Bryon.

I think a good wedding toast relies on a special formula: a little bit of info about the bride and why you love her so much, a few sassy jabs, all in good fun of course, and then you describe how much better the couple is together than they were apart. But that’s a hard one, because since he met Natalie, well, Bryon has become a lot less tolerant. In fact, there’s a reason his trans brother Nathanial is not here tonight. But I do think they make a good couple, because Natalie once told me that she thinks most single mothers are just trying to “pull one over” on the government. That’s really something she said!

As some of you may know, I am now in a committed relationship with my boyfriend, Ranjeep. I am really lucky and really in love. He’s not here because he is not supportive of my relationship with Natalie and feels it doesn’t have any redeeming qualities whatsoever. So, Ranjeep, this part’s for you.

Who besides Natalie will tell me when to go off my depression meds if they’re making me bloated? Because it’s better to be suicidal than puffy, right?

Who besides Natalie would force me to make 37 flower crowns for her bridal party, which bloodied my hands but made me really, really good at flower crowns … a skill I’ll never realistically use again!

And who besides Natalie will take me with her on her corporate retreat to the Bahamian city of Nassau then meet a drug dealer and force me to find a stranger to crash with, who ends up twisting my nipples like two old-fashioned radio dials?

Ranjeep is always like, “Natalie is not good for you. She holds you back, and when you’re around her you cower like a child. Her fiancé is a meathead who seems like he would have done an undergrad rape, and their dog should be put down for insolence.” And I’m like, “I love you, Ranjeep, but you know who I love more? Natalie. A best friend is a best friend.”

I love you, Natalie. I’m so happy for you. Thank you for giving me this amazing job of maid of honor — I didn’t need that $5,000 anyway. Student loans can wait. Friendship is everything. Natalie, I am so excited for your wedding diet to be done because you’ve been so, so mean. Now, go dance!

*Lena Dunham is not great at a wedding toast but can slay a eulogy.*