Tag Archives: Graduation

Trial by Graduation

graduates_hatsThough considered a sentimental rite of passage, graduation more accurately resembles a series of trials — for all involved. Other societies require sticking one’s hand into a glove full of tropical ants or running naked across a herd of cows’ backs. Still, few match the demands of a contemporary American graduation, where we face:

Trial by Speeches. Graduation requires that half the addresses be delivered by people who never make speeches.

Graduates’ talks — generally an exception — are thoughtful and well-practiced, thanks to parents’ and teachers’ threats.

Academic speakers, however, often push listeners to the breaking point. Perhaps the researcher who spoke at my son’s graduation had studied disembodied brains so long she forgot how to connect with those still residing in humans.

If graduates misbehave, the graduation gods will press a button, ejecting them onto Neptune without diplomas. So students Super-Glue their eyelids open. They ready socks to stuff into mouths that issue inappropriate comments or snores. Friends don’t let friends snore during graduation speeches.

Proponents support this polite façade because graduates learn the hypocrisy necessary to keep a job.

The opposition claims such courtesy perpetuates poor speeches. If listeners shot Super Soakers at a sleep-inducing windbag, quality would climb considerably.

Trial by Wardrobe. If aliens attended a graduation, they might conclude the assembly was undergoing mass penance. Suits, ties, high heels, body shapers and control-top pantyhose abound. Graduation gowns trap heat when dry and disintegrate into goo during rainy processionals.

Mortarboards, true to their name, work well for bricklayers. They should not be imposed on human heads. No woman’s hairdo in the history of western civilization has survived the ordeal.

Trial by Music. After 96 repeats of “Pomp and Circumstance,” even the composer might ban the tune forever.

Also, no one ever knows the words to a school’s alma mater. Tunes, however, seem familiar, since many alma maters are based on Cornell University’s “Far Above Cayuga’s Waters” — which borrowed its melody from a song about someone dying of tuberculosis.

No wonder we are moved to tears as, struggling to read the program’s print, we warble:

Steve-RachaelGraduation0001

Steve and me, June, 1971 Columbus (North) High School, Columbus, Indiana

Glory to thy bricks and ivy,

Airy halls of light and truth.

We leave behind thy golden towers,

Built by our bank accounts, forsooth.

Or something like that.

Trial by Smile. Graduates must hug hitherto unknown relatives. This is good practice for their weddings.

Yes, the bravest students, families and friends must endure this rite of passage known as graduation.

And we wouldn’t miss it for the world.

 

 

 

 

Lovin’ This Wild, Crazy May

MaypoleDisneyWhile I like the May Day tradition of hanging surprise flowers on neighbors’ doors, I’ve never been into pole dancing — even the old-fashioned kind, with village maidens and men weaving ribbons around a Maypole. Between my five left feet and mild dyslexia, I might wrap myself, my beloved and innocent bystanders like mummies.

Fortunately, this custom no longer holds a central place in spring tradition.

But wild and crazy May bursts with other rituals.

New beginnings

Baby showers bloom on May calendars like tulips. While most guys prefer the pro basketball play-offs, women flock to these events.

Just as well.

Men wouldn’t understand the games — baby food tasting, bottle bowling or stomach-measuring. Guys in my Sunday school class, eavesdropping on our discussion of a baby shower, growled wrathful references to Child Protective Services — till we informed them we played “Throw the Baby” with a baby doll.

Wedding showers also proliferate. But men probably wouldn’t get the design-a-wedding-dress-with-toilet-paper game, either. Nor would they comprehend the thrill we derive from passing around kitchenware.

They don’t realize this is all about new beginnings. Many women have forgotten what it’s like to own toasters that work and dishtowels with recognizable colors. We rejoice in such novel items and the bride’s shiny, brand-new smiles.

Instead, men invent challenges they can’t win: ““Blast! The lawn isn’t growing.”

Whereupon, they apply tons of fertilizer and pray for rain. The grass flourishes, and they complain, “Blast! The lawn’s growing. Have to cut it again.”

They rise from winter easy chairs to wipe out pretty dandelions and violets, the hardiest spring blossoms, and instead, coax flowers that refuse to rise out of bed. They blow budgets on dirt, rocks and … manure.

Proving their rituals are crazy, too.

Finales

If May overwhelms with new beginnings, it avalanches with finales.

Education-related events precipitate banquets that explode the calendar. Preschools, grade schools, middle schools, high schools and colleges — all aided by sound systems designed by misanthropes and chicken served in its most unrecognizable forms — distribute tributes and trophies.

GraduationThrowHatsStatistics cite May as the month in which ties and control-top pantyhose are worn more than any time of year. After eternal graduation speeches, well-dressed relatives shoot a gazillion fuzzy photos of one special graduate wearing a crooked grin and equally crooked mortarboard.

For the grad and his loved ones, May presents a shifting kaleidoscope of good-byes and fresh dreams.

For me? Breathing in a sweet May morning on my patio, back aching and fingernails dirty from digging into gardens and life, I welcome it all.

Though my five left feet don’t cooperate, my heart can’t help but dance around the Maypole.

Any new beginnings or finales in your May calendar? Are you dancing, too?