Remember, no matter how funny they seem in your head, pranks at a wedding are always a terrible idea. Maybe you’ve considered slipping a whoopee cushion on the bride’s chair, or milking a rehearsal-dinner photo slideshow for every drop of humiliation — but, as world’s worst wedding guest Malcolm Gladwell learned the hard way, you should not. Over the weekend, The Guardian ran an excerpt from a story Gladwell shared at a Moth StorySLAM, “How I Ruined My Best Friend’s Wedding.” Consider it a case study in terrible ideas.
Gladwell recounts attending the wedding of his best college buddy, Craig, a charismatic man-child who decided to grow up and marry Leigh, a wealthy, successful, intelligent woman. Naturally, Leigh — a woman with a PhD and all the characteristics of a mature adult — is a threat to Gladwell and his cadre of Peter Pans. His description of the bride:
She was incredibly dominating. I mean, we thought Craig had a powerful personality, but she put him to shame. She would finish his sentences. She would pay for everything. She would boss him around. Worst of all, she didn’t have a sense of humour at all. She had none of Craig’s wonderful, whimsical take on the world. She was the anti-Craig in many ways. I realise now, looking back with the perspective of history, that I hated her. I really did. Not just for the fact that she had taken Craig away, but because she had changed him — she had changed who he was and what he meant to me.
Instead of just sticking to the registry (always stick to the registry!), Gladwell and chums decided the best gift they could give to the bride and groom was the gift of song. They penned and performed a parody of “My Way” at the wedding reception that summed up their feelings of Craig and Leigh’s relationship. A sample of some of the more clever lyrics:
Girlfriends he’s had a few, in fact a lot, the list is endless.
But Leigh is a woman that’s true. She set him
straight and now he’s friendless.
He met her mom and dad, who planned his wedding along the freeway.
So Craig, he tied the knot. He did it their way.
All they managed to do was alienate their best friend and cause the offended bride and groom to vacate their own wedding reception. Gladwell is self-aware enough to show some remorse in his retelling, and even fesses up to the actual cause of the prank (standard fear of the adult woman), but he’s taught us a truly valuable lesson in in the meantime: It doesn’t take 10,000 hours of practice to perfect the art of being a jerk.