My good friend Cory Bivona asked me to be his best man for his wedding last night. I accepted the honor without hesitation telling my friend that I would be there anyway. I might be stricken to a wheel chair with tubes coming out of every orifice of my body, but I would be there.
In the back of my mind, as Cory gave me the details of the wedding so far, I wondered: "What exactly does it mean to be someone's 'best man'?" The tradition of the best man has been around for years, but does anyone really stop to comtemplate its meaning or significance? I doubt it.
Cory continued, telling me all the reasons why I was the only worthy canidate. He said I was the only constant source of friendship that he has had in his life when it mattered most. I was present at all the most important events of his life. I was the only friend from Indiana that ever visited him or called him after he moved away. I don't think I have ever received a better compliment.
Cory and I go way back. On his very first day of 5th grade class in Indiana, this kid talked about a boy scout camping trip he went on. Cory was a scouter where he used to live. Turns out, that kid was me and I got him involved with Troop 12. We went on our first backpacking trip together and went on a 12 day trek at the Philmont Scout Ranch in Cimarron, New Mexico.
As Cory talked on, I started to get a better idea of the best man's role, but I wasn't satisfied. I did some research first thing this morning. The role of best man was introduced by the Germanic goths at approximately 200 AD. Due to a shortage of women. Goth men frequently resorted to bride kidnapping to procure wives. When the groom went to the bride's house with the intent of carrying her off, the best man was dispatched to help fight off the relatives of the bride.
Backpacking may not be of the same intensity as Germanic Goth-style wive-stealing, but I was starting to get the concept. The groom and the best man overcome some sort of obstacle together. Being the groom's best man meant to be his best friend, and no greater title or honor exists than to be a man's best friend.