Graduation Adventures (now with flashbacks!)

The best moment of the whole school year was graduation. What, you say? Sitting in a black robe for three hours in the Carolina sun? That doesn’t sound like the twitchy Dave I know. Yes, let me explain.

I finally got booted off the faculty island this year, ostensibly because I only teach one class per semester, but it’s really because I’m a member of the Opus Duh society. Another story that. So I went to graduation and sat in the shade with the Economist to read during the boring bits. Wished I’d brought Scientific American too by the end of it. But my glee at not roasting in the sun like those other poor buggers did not go unnoticed by the mysterious fates that rule the universe and steal socks from the dryer.

My punishment was that I had to go to another graduation. Since I’m on the board of Krista’s school, it’s expected that I show up. Anyway, so I finds myself tonight sitting in another graduation ceremony. This one was inside, but the mysterious fates that rule the universe and cause squirrels to change their minds frequently decreed that the air conditioning should fail. I sat near the exit.

They piped in the national anthem. It took me a moment to find the flag. About the time I did, the lady behind me launched into song. It was precisely pitched, well modulated, and LOUD. I squinted against the pain, but resisted actually sticking my fingers in my ears. I steeled myself for the bombs bursting in air, but she mercifully dropped to a lower register just as my skull was about to shatter. I thought I was out of the woods. But no it was…it was …

[wavy lines indicate flashback to...]
…1980, and I was delivering drugs. For Lon’s drug store, I should hasten to add. All my other friends were delivering other kinds of drugs. The DESTINATION in Murphysboro was not high on my list of fun places to see. These were serious cases—no way they could function normally. I ran the drugs in, trying not to dwell on all the mistakes that the intelligent designer had made. But this one chick (that’s what we called girls in 1980) followed me. She couldn’t put her arms down, or wouldn’t, so she looked a bit like a T-rex ambling after me. It seriously creeped me out having a special fan, so I hastened. (This reminds me of the time I had a psycho stalker at the College, but that’s another story.) If you’ve seen The Ring, that’s her to a T. So I did the paperwork quickly, dotting the tees and crossing my eyes. Almost home free—I could see the door. Just gimme three steps toward the door. Then she SCREAMED right behind me—not a long wailing ghosty scream that might give you a goosebump or two, but a short piercing SHRIEK like a Freon bath. I quickly discovered it’s very hard to get traction when you’re three feet in the air. I remember the nurses saying in that soothing voice “no more screaming now, calm down,” but I kept right on. The horror. We buried the pants, and Lon never let me drive his truck again.

[/wavy lines]

So anyway, the bombs burst in the air but our flag was still there. I hadn’t counted on a grand finale, so it had double effect when the voice behind me rose to a high loud pitch for HOME OF THE BRAAAAAAAAAAAVE! It was like panzers coming through the Ardennes in the dead of winter. Worse, she had chosen an unfortunate note to dwell upon for her extended vocal comment on courage. It wasn’t the melody note, nor could it easily be identified as a third, fourth, or fifth interval harmony. Honestly, I think you would have to search for a culture unfamiliar with Western tradition to find such a musical scale as this. But to her credit she stuck to her guns. No sliding into an approximately correct note for this lass. She held that sucker to the bitter end. We got some stares, I tell you. People probably thought she did it to protest the situation in Tibet or Sudan or Murphysboro. I took a quick glance to make sure her arms weren’t held up to her chest.

Things calmed down after that for a while. The speaker was interesting—a state representative who told a cute story.

[cute story attributed to Jay Lucas]
Kid wants a pet, so dad weighs the options and gets a box turtle. It says on the bottom that they only live six months. But this one lives for years and becomes as much a pet as a turtle can. The kid’s now four when dad comes home to find him crying. Points at the turtle, which isn’t moving. Says his pet is dead. Dad consoles him and tells him sometimes death is cause for celebration, if it’s a life well-lived. Says the kid can invite his friends over the next day and see Mr. Turtle off into the next world in style with cake and ice cream and tales of great deeds. The kid really likes this idea, smiles for the first time, and starts listing all the friends he wants to invite. But then Mr. Turtle wakes up from his nap and starts walking around like he’s not even dead. Kid looks at turtle, looks at his dad. “Can I kill him, dad?”


One final point of note. This was an 8th grade graduation, and near the end, a young lady from the 7th grade introduced her classmates as the class of 2007. She called out the names, pausing dramatically between each. The students stood in turn. When she got to her own name, she paused, read the name, and then looked a bit bewildered. I could see why. All the other students were standing as their names were called, but she was already standing. What to do? So she hopped. Like a little bunny bounce, just to let us know who she was, then proceeded.


At 7:40 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

An amusing story, except my sources have confirmed it was a rambunctious lad who was singing behind you. And how about that simile about "panzers in the Ardennes"? Love those Third Reich-connected literary embellishments. Here's mine: Sitting in the open during Coker commencement was hellish, the sun bearing down like Stuka divebombers determined to coat Poland with the blood of innocent civilians.

At 7:16 AM, Blogger dave said...

If it was a guy, he was one heck of a cross-dresser!


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