Friday, July 20, 2012

Commodore Ruins Wedding; Bride and Groom Put on a Brave Face

Mr. van Berkel (far right), moments before he became exhausted
Richmond, BC - The radiant bride had taken her first few steps down the aisle in the shadow of the Rocky Mountains with the swollen Fraser River gliding serenely past when a man in a navy suit lurched forward and was caught by surprised friends. Stunned guests turned away from the visibly distraught bride as the man, knocking over chairs as he struggled to stay on his feet, was helped away from the ceremony. This was the scene last night when Commodore Ryan van Berkel took ill during the nuptials of Mr. and Mrs. Dustin Patterson (ne. Skelly).

The Commodore's Office released a statement later that night expressing regret for interrupting the service, blaming the Commodore's condition on "acute exhaustion." A doctor who treated Mr. van Berkel at Vancouver General Hospital would not speak for attribution but confirmed that exhaustion was a contributing factor. "When people who work extremely hard - whether it be Lindsay Lohan or one of the Olsen twins - add the excitement of getting together with friends to the mix, we often see a reaction in which those individuals have trouble maintaining ordinary energy levels," said the doctor. As energy levels drop symptoms can include the blurring of vision, slurring of speech and having trouble maintaining balance. After-effects can include headaches and nausea.

However, guests at the wedding were concerned that other factors had contributed to Mr. van Berkel's condition. "He likes a cheeseburger," offered friend Chip P. Chrisman, "that much we know." Concern about the Commodore's diet was echoed by other friends and associates. "It's not uncommon for his intake of greasy food to overwhelm his system," confirmed AJ Tooley, "and when that's the case he has to have doctors scrape away the grease clogging his veins - at the Health Sciences Centre they call it a 'Berkelectomy'."

As for the family of the bride and groom, they maintained that there were no hard feelings between them and Mr. van Berkel. Said the father of the groom, Mr. Jeff Patterson: "Would we have chosen to have someone flailing around like a plastic bag in the wind as the bride walked down the aisle? No. But hey, these things happen and there's not much you can do about it. I'm sure he feels bad enough."

Mr. van Berkel, who did not return this reporter's calls requesting comment, has publicly maintained that he hopes to put the incident behind him but, among the Victoria Beach sailing community, there is concern about his health in the face of the upcoming August long weekend - perhaps the year's high-point for exhaustion. Chief of Police Stewart McPherson says that police and paramedics encounter countless cases of exhaustion every August long. "We see exhaustion in all forms over those three days, he says, "exhaustion on the beach, at barbeques, on the golf course, and, especially, at social functions that sometimes stretch late into the night."

Jack Brisco, a researcher at the Birchwood Institute for the Study of Exhaustion notes that, though the science is still shaky, there seems to be some connection between the onset of exhaustion and proximity to sunshine, laughter and music. Some at Victoria Beach worry it might necessarily be a dark, quiet and mirthless August long weekend for the Commodore.