Caps and Frowns

Michael Mendrick re-joins us with another tickling look at the virtual absurdities of life from his "A View from Askew" series. Toss your tassels (and hassles) aside as you take in this mythical commencement address for the "soon to be unemployed masses. " As Pulitzer-Prize-winning, widely-syndicated columnist Dave Barry noted, "We are dealing with an angry, sick, twisted mind here. This is good." Please take your seats-- the graduation ceremony is about to begin.

The following transcript is printed with permission from Pocatello Tech, a small trade school in southeastern Idaho where Max Feigner recently delivered the commencement speech to graduating seniors. It is reprinted here as yet another public service by this column to the young people of America.

"Good afternoon, Chancellor Klink, proud parents and friends, and soon-to-be unemployed masses. You... are the future... of this country. YIKES! No, come on-- I'm kidding. I'm a big kidder. All seriousness aside, with a future like you, who needs a past?! Again, I kid. So, you don't get a lot of humor up here in Idaho, it seems. Is it really getting hot up here? Did someone say 'Pencils down!'-- I mean, it's as quiet as an SAT exam out there!"

After a brief delay in the proceedings as campus security was called into action to quiet the enraged crowd and the stage was cleared of debris, Max was called back from his dressing room (where the x-rays proved to be negative) and was allowed to continu e his address.

"Okay, so it seems we got off to a bit of a rough start there a few minutes ago. What do you say we try it again, and make this the magical moment I know it can be for all of us! Nice throw, pal--that one was pretty close.

"Today marks a very special day in the calendar of your life and of my life as well. It is a special day for you because after several years of skipping classes, blowing money your parents gave you on beer and drugs, and developing ingenious plans to 'be at the system' by acquiring answer sheets for all your finals in advance-- you are finally graduating from this two-year college. It is a special day for me because it marks the first time any institution has been naive enough to actually pay me a fee to speak. Thank you, sir-- I'm sure you meant that in an endearing way.

"During this invaluable college experience, you have had the opportunity to become your own true self. You have tasted real independence for the very first time, and found that, unlike those low-fat, low-cholesterol independences, real independence taste s oh-so-sweet, yet still isn't a particularly fattening garnish on the plate of life. I think you know what I mean.

"The college years represent the gateway to your adulthood. For many of you, some of the most influential and powerful moments of your life have happened during your time here. Like really falling in love for the first time, standing up for an issue you truly believe in for the first time, waking up in a pool of your own vomit for the first time. These are experiences that will impact the blueprint of your entire life, so celebrate them, rejoice in them!

"Now that you have gained confidence in yourself, and feel a sense of purpose and direction that has evolved throughout your collegiate experience, the time has come for you to spread your wings! To be free! To pay off school loans for the next eight years! So, as you move back home with your parents and try to work out some reasonable chores-in-lieu-of-rent arrangement, keep your bloodshot eyes focused on the horizon ahead, and never give up on your dreams. It may seem like a long ways off right now, but there will come a day when you get a job that fulfills you and pays well enough so that you can move into that cute 450 square foot apartment with two other people you thought you knew so well.

"Eventually, many of you will go on to have families of your own. Families are so very important to our lives, and to our society. Without a family to raise, you'll be left with nothing but free time to do exactly as you please.

"Ladies, many of you face a special challenge, as you try to balance your personal career goals with the needs of a family. I am here to tell you that there is good news and not-so-good news. The good news is that you do have a distinct advantage over y our male counterparts, in that you will outlive them by an average of 6.8 years. The not-so-good news is that you women will also be spending 6.4 years of your lives in line at public bathrooms during major events. So, it's about a wash, really.

"One thing is certain. As you move on in life, and struggle with achieving the goals that you and your loan officer have set for you, there will be times when it all seems to be spinning out of control... when you have no time for yourself, when you feel lost and alone, when nothing seems easy. You will feel as if you're watching your life from the sidelines, just a spectator to the game, rather than a participant. In those difficult times, I want you to remember this: at least you've got good seats!

"Thank you, good night, good luck, God bless, and... where's the men's room?!"


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