I recently had the pleasure of watching a celebrity roast. In the old days, these events 'honoured' the creme de la creme of the entertainment world, putting show business royalty in the oven for an hour or so to baste in their own sweat and giggle nervously as friends and colleagues rattled off a litany of their mistakes and indiscretions with impeccable comic timing. Given the state the world economy is in, it's no wonder that the choice of meat for these feasts has gone from prime rib to hamburger. The celebrity on the menu the night I watched was none other than the tabloid crowd's drive-thru dish of choice, David Hassellhoff and you know what? It was the best roast I've ever seen! His life and 'career' being what it has been, the celebrity chefs turned the heat up to three hundred degrees without raising a sweat, and The Hoff didn't even burn, (although he couldn't get any browner, let's face it), spitting Crisco back at them with retorts that must have had aspiring stand-ups taking notes. My romantic 'career' being what it has been, I couldn't help but wonder what it would be like if I was the one in the baking dish, and my friends and exes were the ones serving me up? This is how I thought it would go...
Introduction - my best friend, Corrina. I've known Mel since we were eleven and twelve years old, and I'm pleased to say her taste in men has improved since those early days; she doesn't fall in love with thirteen year-olds anymore...well, not thirteen in the chronological sense. The list of her roasters this evening reads like the contents page on Don't Date Him.com. Her first boyfriend, Perry, is here. They dated for a whole two weeks until she got out in the world and realised that Eu de Marlborough wasn't a brand of men's cologne. Then of course there's her first real boyfriend, Aaron, who managed to squeeze us into his busy schedule between riding past Mel's house and pretending to be in love with his wife. I'm pleased to see Ryan here. He's the one who managed to stick with Mel the longest. Five whole years! I'd throw in the old standard 'you do less time for murder,' but in that scenario, it'd be kind of hard to pick the perp. Anyway, I volunteered to be the M.C. tonight because, of all the people in this room, I can safely say I know Mel best of all. I've seen her in just about any state you can imagine - happy, sad, angry, loving, bitter, regretful, exhilarated; and that was just on her thirtieth birthday. Mel has a little condition I like to call I.M.P.D - Inebriated Multiple Personality Disorder. When she's sober, she's a shy, virginal Sunday school teacher. When she's tipsy, she's a hyperactive leprechaun on uppers. When she's drunk, she's anybody's. Oh, while we're on the subject, could we get someone to come over here and keep Mel away from the open bar? Great. Mel, everyone in this room loves you, well, most of them...okay, just the ones who haven't actually had to live with you for longer than twenty four hours, and we hope you will appreciate this roast in the spirit with which it was intended; good humour...especially seeing as we're recording it for screening at your intervention.
First speaker - Perry Feldon. I first met Mel at a venue she was to frequent on and off throughout the course of her early twenties; the unemployment office. We bonded over mutual interests; we were both unemployed and desperate. When she first got a job I was overjoyed; finally, we could eat dinner in a place where they actually gave you cutlery, and not the plastic kind. But it wasn't long before she started to meet new people and when she asked to talk to me over lunch one day, I knew it was over before she said a word. But it wasn't as though she severed ties with me completely; we would bump into each other every now and then at the train station when she was on her way to work and she was always friendly...she never failed to give me a smile before dashing into the ladies to hide. I still held out hope though; she was a nice person, she'd soon realise that those guys in suits were phonies and come back to me...sure, she wasn't making eye contact with me these days, but that was just because of the sun glare in her eyes...in mid winter. Smitten as I was, I did bow out in the end. It took me a while, but I finally got the message that she'd moved on. That, and her mother threatened to castrate me if I came within a metre of her.
Second speaker - Aaron Smith. I once read that the definition of insanity was to keep doing the same thing and expect a different result. There, in a nutshell, you have my relationship with Mel. We first met at a club one Thursday night and I'll never forget what a vision she was; capering around on the dance floor, holding her fourth drink of the night and singing along to Peter Andre. I drove her home that night and we quickly became inseparable. Quite literally. She clung to me like we were bonded together with invisible handcuffs. Being a red-blooded twenty-five year old guy, I was taken aback by this so I ended things but, as Mel herself has documented in her blog, that was not the end of our association. We got together quite a bit over the next few years until she had her little epiphany and broke up with me. As the old saying goes, with progression comes change. I thought that with the progression of her age and her waistline her standards might change but alas, things didn't pan out that way. When you think about it, a moral compass is just like a Swiss army knife; it's easily adaptable and can be tucked away when you have no use for it.
Final speaker - Ryan Bunton. Mel and I were actually set up on a blind date. Of course, I mean a blind date in the traditional sense, not the colloquial, which from what I've been able to piece together from members of the audience describes her dating pattern prior to meeting me. We lived together for a few years and I must admit, I had doubts about where our relationship was headed, but we managed to work things out and stick together for a while...sudden parenthood is a great adhesive. Mel will tell you that I was difficult to live with and it's true, I was somewhat distant, but I wasn't like that all the time...Mel was a dab hand with the old bunji cord. But you need individual interests to stay happy as a couple and we certainly had those. I had dungeons and dragons, sport, and surfing for porn to psych myself up. Mel had the baby, reading, and playing with the voodoo doll she made that time I said hi to a girl I went to school with. The good thing about Mel is that she doesn't fit the stereotypical description of a woman in a long-term, co-habitual relationship. She never lost interest in sex. Never. Not once. Not even when I pretended to be asleep. It's a good thing really; now I'm prepared should I ever be doused in honey and cornered by a bear. All good things must come to an end and I did meet someone else one fateful weekend away with my football team, but Mel took it gracefully. There wasn't any begging or crying or clinging to my leg as I walked out the front door. She even took my announcement of our nuptials with amazing grace, despite my initial misgivings about telling her, and not once has she sought revenge...anyone can develop a spontaneous hernia on their wedding night.
Corrina's closing. Mel, despite any ill feelings that may be circulating around this room tonight, I think I speak for everyone here when I say that you are a uniquely talented and courageous woman. It takes balls to go out in public with your head held high, knowing where it's been. And I'm positive that the social anxiety you're currently experiencing will pass and you'll be back to your effervescent old self. Alcohol manufacturers have built an industry around it.