In Your Honour

Many roads led to the marriage of Matthew Tousignant and Sarah Fishkin there amongst the redwood and pine of Sonoma County.

I met Matthew D. Tousignant on his first day at Conestoga Senior High School in Berwyn, PA. We were juniors. Our guidance councilor asked me (the student council brownie hound that I was) to show Matt around. Matt had transferred from private school. He was 5’6″ at best, thick: muscle bound, crew cut, darkly handsome. He wore a Top Gun-type naval flight jacket adorned with various miltary patches.

Matt had attended the public junior high school, so he knew plenty of the student body. He fell in with the athletes, a group that generally tolerated me because a) I was the sports reporter for the local paper and b) was best friends with Sibby Browne, star of the soccer team.

Matt and I took biology together. It won’t surprise you to learn that the sciences were, at best, a challenge for me. Matt, on the other hand, was the only person I ever knew who actually earned straight As. SO he tutored me. In exchange, I tried to advise him with the ladies. (With some success, I’ll add parenthetically: he took the date of his choice to the Homecoming dance, which was our collective objective at the time.)

The furnace that forged our friendships — Matthew, Sibby, Jon, James and I — though, was booze. And Guns ‘n Roses. While there were numerous combinations of these elements, the top two were a) piling into James’ Suburban with a case of Stroh’s, driving around the Main Line turfing lawns and b) celebrating Happy Hour at my mom’s house (who asked me to point out that she a) was not home and b) did not sanction the gatherings). These were intimate gatherings, to be sure. More often than not, a hand-penciled sign hung on my front door: “No Party, No Fun, Watch My Thumb: Leave!” Not very cool, but it kept the gatherings cop-free.

Tous went to Harvard where he dropped out of his ROTC scholarship (much to his father, Lt. Colonel Dave Tousignant’s, chagrin) and pursued art history. He moved to Berkeley where he had a short stint in seminary, before moving into holistic bodywork. For the last six months he’s lived on a commune in northern California.

Sibby partied his way through UPenn, eventually becoming the well-lubricated president of his fraternity while still excelling on the soccer field. He tough high school English for a while, lived with Matt in Berkeley a while, then settled in Albuquerque, NM, where he runs a soccer league.

Jon went on to Moravian College, where he laid the foundation that led to his current designation as Jon Larkin, PhD. He was the first to marry (my mother presided over their ceremony, I kid you not), the first to be a parent, and the first to move back home to suburban Philly. He now works for Smith Klein Glaxo.

James took a run at UPitt, then toiled for a few years in some fairly major blue collar gigs: first in asbestos removal, then in a steel mill. Somewhere around 1995, he packed his Ford Probe, drove west for L.A., and never looked back. He rose through the mailroom ranks to his current position as one of United Talent Agency’s top agents. He married three summers ago (the last time we all got together en masse), purchsed his first home a three weeks ago, and is expecting his first child in eight weeks.

And then there’s me. You know me.

The five of us have kept up remarkably well through the years, due in no small part to my penchant for email, our affinity for reuniting over beer and Maryland blue crabs, but due also something more substantive and intangible. There’s a shared sensibility there, the product of all of our disperate parts combined.

Those are the players. Those are the men — barring, perhaps, my father and brother — who know me best. We have seen each other through a lot: wanted pregnancies, unwanted pregnancies, job loss, love loss, hair loss. And though we may be bag tagging one another, blessing each other with mouths full of frothy beer, or farting in each other’s faces, there is way more there. There is 20+ years of history, of things changed and unchanged.

And so there we were — all but James, whose impending fatherhood prohibited it — assembling high atop the rolling green Coastal Range some 1600 feet above the misty Pacific Ocean, to marry off our beloved friend Matthew.

To Be Continued …

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