In My Ohio

​On John Oswalt

Darren C. Demaree
​John Oswalt is getting married next weekend, and he has requested that nobody stand up at the reception to give a speech. I can respect my friend’s wishes and abstain from bringing my own microphone to the proceedings, and since you have no idea who John Oswalt (Oz) is or where this wedding is taking place, I imagine we can trust that you (the reader) won’t be interrupting any dances to clear your throat. It’s all set then; it can be a beautiful celebration of two people’s commitment to each other, reaffirming their already declared love, and what sounds like a fantastic meal at the reception.
On my checklist for next weekend is picking up my new suit, and getting a haircut. I’ve already trimmed my beard, and with one week of growth added on to it, it should be spot on for the day. This leaves only the excitement for the wedding, and unless something unexpected happens there is only one more thing to do.
You see, I am John Oswalt’s orneriest of friends, and though I will always try my best to aid him directly in his pursuits, I must step around his rule for next weekend and say a few words.
Oz was my freshman roommate at the College of Wooster. That is the easy introduction. He was also one of my roommates sophomore year, and part of junior year, and since then we’ve hung out while I was in grad school, while he was in grad school, while we’ve worked different jobs, lived different places, while I got married and had kids, and now while he is in the middle of getting married himself. We’ve been brothers since the second month of our freshman year. That is almost sixteen years of so many things that sometimes all you can remember is that this person was always there.
Last weekend, at his bachelor party we all tried to describe Oz in one word, and I chose “best”. At that table were a collection of incredibly talented, bright, and successful people: there is the woman who works tirelessly to make Columbus a better place; an actor of plays, television, and movies; a wildly successful business owner; a financial titan/Marine; an owner of an NFC Championship ring from the NFL; a tremendous journalist; an author of five books, and I chose “best” because Oz is and always has been the best of us.
He is subtle and quiet about it, but he cares more about his friends, his family, and even strangers than I have ever seen anybody else care. His empathy and passion for others is dynamic in a world that celebrates glimmers of such behavior. He is a supernova of a man, and even if he rarely raises his voice to do anything other than celebrate others, it is damn time to celebrate him.
Oz carries himself the way that the rest of talk about carrying ourselves. He is staunch, he is resolute, he loves, he is compassionate, and he is a bear if you need him to be one. I have had him stand shoulder to shoulder with me in places where the smart move was to hand me the shovel and tell me to jump in the hole when I was done. I have, as every person that was at that Bachelor Party has, as much affection for John Oswalt as any other person in my short history. It gives me tremendous joy that he has found his ultimate partner to love and be loved by for the rest of his days. It is a union that gives me the kind of hope that is transferable to all people.
So, Oz, you’re in the clear, nobody will give any speeches at your wedding. Nobody will need to. We will all be thinking the same thing at the same time about the same man.