graduation capsI am sitting in a lounge chair in front of a large group of people wearing a gown and mortar board. The academics file past wearing their own get-ups which make them look to be Vatican Guards. There are no people flying through the air playing a ball game, nobody has a wand and Alan Rickman is not sneering at anyone, but I still look and feel like Harry Potter. (NB: It occurs to me that this is the fourth of fifth Harry Potter reference made on this site. I assure you reader that I am as uneasy with that fact as you are either irritated or delighted).

Music starts and I yawn and stretch, pull a paperback out of my robe and start reading. I assume my fallback position: too cool for school.

Commencements and I have always shared a suspicious, confusing and awkward relationship. Sort of the ceremonial embodiment of the look you give a postman after you catch him talking to himself and picking his nose at the same time. This is the fourth school I have graduated from and the third commencement that I have attended. I have vague memories of being bribed into good behavior with punch and cookies before a Kindergarten ceremony. And I remember seconds later sneezing the entire contents of my sinuses into my hands and the ultimate, and inevitable, decision to hide said contents in the sleeves of my robe.

The covertness of this action was blown by the hulking video cameras aimed at us for the entire proceedings. I believe my mother had to clean the robe. The punch left me with a third red lip.

Eighth grade graduation was a bittersweet symphony of emotions. On the positive side, I was getting cake and my Grandmom’s meatballs afterwards. I was off to high school in adventurous downtown Philadelphia in the fall and I never ever had to either see any of the kids from my class ever again or speak to a nun. On the negative side, it was 110 ° at the ceremony and I would never again sit next to Corinne Glimper, who had blossomed at an early age and who the alphabet had placed next to me and my twisted, horny eighth grade mind. I learned to catch a casual glimpse so well that I owe that woman thanks for games of poker won and passing grades in exams.

In high school we dressed like waiters. We wore white jackets, black bow ties and black trousers. The glare off my shoes blinded a passing bus driver. My mother cried and my father gave me a speech on the direct relationship between my level of academic commitment and the conservation of his money entitled: “If you fail anything in college I am going to drive to Pittsburgh and fucking kill you. Happy graduation, go get some meatballs.” The positives were that I never had to go to downtown Philadelphia (AKA: the combat zone) again and I was off to adventurous Pittsburgh where women, partying and the world awaited.

That was my last commencement until this Friday and my Harry Potter garb. University did involve a lot of women, sleeping through classes and partying. If ‘the world’ meant staring into the bottom of a plastic cup holding Milwaukee’s Best, then I learned it all. I took to gliding by academically as though I were preparing for a PhD in the subject. I eventually dropped out and eventually dropped back in after realizing that working in a Pittsburgh mechanic’s garage was not the thing for me as I didn’t hate every ethnicity on Earth and I looked stupid in blue pants. Also, I didn’t know anything about cars.

By the time I graduated it was three years after my friends had graduated and there was no reason for me to walk. My parents were simply thrilled to get the phone call that I had finished and that they were never going to be asked for money again. My grade point average might have been the lowest in the school’s history.

For these reasons and more, I could not have cared less about the ceremony itself. Nonetheless, I did drop “graduation” into many conversations that day in order to receive congrats in the form of several one-ounce alcoholic drinks.

So this Friday as I embark on my casual “Pfft, it’s just graduation” attitude, something dawns on me: I am enjoying this. There are songs, they are calling out our names and the atmosphere is positive and reeking with accomplishment and success. Furthermore, I have spent the last two years working hard on a goal that I finally reached. This is evidenced by my diploma and transcript (29 As and 6 Bs). By the time the academic elite burst into a rendition of Gaudeamus Igitur, I have not only gotten involved, I am actually highly moved and a little choked up.

The lesson here is that post graduation drinks are so much more delicious when they are on the heels of 29 As and not 34 Cs.

34 Cs. Wonder what Corinne’s been up to…

  1. #1 by Veronika on October 25, 2012 - 9:35 am

    Have to admit I am bit jealous..but would like to see you in the graduation robe. :0)

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