And so we are gathered here today—you, the eager members of the Class of 2002, and we, your family members, who will sit on these hard folding chairs until every last eager one of you has picked up a diploma, at which point we will feel as though the entire Riverdance troupe has been stomping on our buttocks.<注2>
Because, gosh, there sure are a LOT of you in the Class of 2002! We in the audience are wondering if there is anybody in North America besides us who is NOT graduating today. And although we know this is very exciting for you, the Class of 2002, we are fighting to stay awake.
We have already engaged in the traditional time-passing activities of commencement audiences, such as trying to remember the names of all Seven Dwarfs, and looking through the commencement program for comical graduate names.
We have nudged the person sitting next to us and pointed to names like "Konrad A. Klamsucker Jr." And "Vorbanna Freepitude,"?and that has given us brief moments of happiness.
But we can only do that for so long, Class of 2002, and now we are feeling the despair that comes over members of a commencement audience when they realize that 40 minutes have passed, and the dean is just now starting to hand out diplomas to people whose last names start with "D",?and the last name of the lone graduate we actually came to see starts with "W".?
We have decided that, if we ever have another child threatening to graduate from college, we're going to have that child's name legally changed to "Aaron A. Aardvark."?Yes, the other families in the audience will make fun of it. But their laughter will turn to bitter envy when our child gets his diploma first, and we get up off these folding chairs and head for a restaurant! Ha ha!
We also think it would be nice if commencement programs had interesting articles for the audience to read, or even short works of fiction with appropriate educational themes. (As Vorbanna walked across the stage, her tassel swaying seductively, Konrad watched her, his sweating hands caressing the smooth hardness of his embossed leatherette diploma cover, and he thought about that unforgettable night when the two of them, for the first time, matriculated.?Another option would be to show movies during the commencement ceremonies.
Wouldn't that be great? While we were waiting for specific graduates to get their diplomas, we could enjoy such classic education-related cinema moments as the scene in "Animal House"<注3>?swheresJohn Belushi imitates a giant pimple by squeezing his cheeks and spewing chewed food out of his mouth.
That would surely get a roar of delight and approval from the audience, and whichever graduate happened to be on the stage at that moment would think, "Gosh, they certainly are excited about my bachelor's degree in Business Transportation with a minor in Tire Management!"?So everybody would benefit.
Sadly, Class of 2002, we are not yet ready, as a society, for this kind of progressive commencement concept. Because the world is not a perfect place.
It is a world filled with malice and evil, a world where, today, none of us is truly safe, even in our homes, from the very real danger that a total stranger will call us up and demand that we change our phone company. It will be up to you, the Class of 2002, to tackle these problems ?not only to build a better society for tomorrow, but also to take bold action to correct the injustices of the past, starting by promising to pay your parents back for your college tuition.
Ha ha! That was commencement humor, Class of 2002. Your parents do not expect you to pay them back. All that they expect is that you will go out and find your place in the world. Notice that we say, "the world ,"?as opposed to, "our parents'?house."?Your parents love you very, very much, Class of 2002, but at this stage in their lives, if they could choose between living with you and living with a Labrador retriever<注4>, they quite frankly would go with the Labrador retriever. For one thing, it will not expect them to do its laundry.
In closing, Class of 2002, we would like to leave you with some words of wisdom ?words that may mean little to you now, but words that, trust us, you will some day want very much to remember. Those words are: Sleepy, Grumpy, Sneezy, Happy, Dopey<注5> and two other ones. Thank you, good luck, and we'll meet you at the restaurant.