I don't want you to think you started to read the wrong article by mistake, but I wanted to start off with a quote from William Shakespeare. "All the world's a stage, and all the men and women merely players."

It's amazing that Shakespeare wrote as many plays as he did since he evidently spent most of his time thinking up spiffy quotes that people could use hundreds of years after his death.

Even though I don't like to disagree with a bard, I think Shakespeare's insight applies to weddings, if not "all the world."

I have played virtually all the roles in wedding dramas - except, of course, bride, bridesmaid, maid/matron of honor and flower girl. I am sure a veil would improve my looks, but I'm not a real big fan of sequins.

It is with great gratitude that I can report that my first role in a wedding production was not that of ring bearer.

None of my relatives got married when I was young enough to serve as ring bearer. By the time they did start getting married, I was well past the ring bearer cutoff age. Let's face it, nobody wants to see a ring bearer with a beard.

No, I got my first part in a wedding as one of the kids you inevitably see sliding across the dance floor in their stocking feet at a reception.

My siblings and I usually got to drink soda only on pizza night, at Sunday dinner and for special occasions. Weddings meant we could drink as much soda as we could get away with.

Come to think of it, all the caffeine in the cola may have been the reason we kept sliding around on the dance floor as if we were ice skating in leather-soled shoes.

Of course, by the time I was a teen I was much too cool to do something like that at a wedding. As a matter of fact, I considered myself much too grown up to even attend a wedding reception.

Weddings involving cousins were an exception, but it wasn't until my high school friends and college fraternity brothers started to get married that I returned full force to roles at nuptials.

I started off slowly as a friend of the groom. This involved sitting on the right side of the church at the wedding ceremony and selecting the prime table at the reception.

By prime table, I do not refer to the table at which the bride and groom sat. No. Back then, that meant a table that was located in the center of a triangle formed by the bar, kitchen and restroom.

Once I gave up drinking, I was able to move into a more active part. I served as a driver at a few weddings, chauffeuring around members of the wedding party.

They usually gave me the lesser-known bridesmaids and ushers on the theory that in case I got lost between the church and the reception hall, they would not really be missed.

Eventually, I was asked to serve as an usher. This may have been so that the newlyweds wouldn't have to call at the Civil Air Patrol to look for members of the bridal party.

I must admit I wasn't sure on which side of the church I should seat friends/family of the bride and groom. I would usually escort the people up the middle of the center aisle until I came to empty pews on both sides.

Then I would quickly do a speedy about-face that I perfected as a tuba player in the high school band, and leave the guests to choose what side they wanted to sit on.

I even served as best man at one or two weddings. That was my favorite role to that point. I didn't have to worry about directions or which side of the aisle someone was seated. I just stood with the groom, made bad jokes before the service and kept track of the wedding rings.

Actually, I didn't even have to worry about the rings. The grooms knew I couldn't be trusted, so they and their brides put the wedding bands on before the service and just pretended when they came to that part.

I had a wealth of experience in the various parts of a wedding production before I made it to co-star as the groom. It turns out that I didn't need all that know-how.

As is the case with almost all grooms, all I had to do was show up. My beautiful bride, Jo Ann, was the real star of the production. As long as I didn't trip over the ring bearer going down the aisle, I was home free.

Now, I find myself playing a wedding role that I had forgotten about. I am one of the older relatives that the bride and groom do not quite place. Each thinks I am a relative of the other newlywed.

Soon, nobody will know who I am and then I am going to make my wedding performance comeback.

I am going to take off my shoes and start sliding across the dance floor with the caffeinated kids.

(Walt Kozlowski, a freelance writer from Mount Carmel, composes "Walt's Way" for each Sunday edition.)