End of the beginnings

“Life is a buffet and most poor suckers are starving.” The valedictorian’s speech begins with a promising quote from Auntie Mame. Maybe this won’t be the typical “Reach for the stars” bullshit speech as my friend Sam oh so delicately calls them. But as the valedictorian begins to literally count the hours that are spent eating in a lifetime, my mind begins to wander and I begin to think about lunch. I think to myself how nice it would be to hear an honest and frank graduation speech. One that would take into account the one thing that these students do not have: a lifetime of experience and disappointments.

I was not a star pupil, but in the school of hard knocks I’m right up there. So, in my head, I begin my speech. My voice is deep and authoritative, like a gay white man’s version of James Earl Jones:

“My fellow students, faculty, family, friends and distant relatives that feel trapped into attending, and so will be drinking a little earlier than usual today. I welcome you! Sitting here before you are the sullen teenagers that you argued with this morning. Their inability to set an alarm clock or ‘for the love of God’, manage their own time was the last straw this morning. They will undoubtedly not acquire these skills in the next two months before college and more than likely, never will.

Parents, you tried your best, but let’s face it; you could have done things better. If your goal was to make sure that your children had something to talk about in therapy. You have succeeded!

Students, you probably did not try your best. Facebook, Twitter, texting and social acceptance were your first priorities. Schoolwork was merely background noise. Congratulations! The rest of your life is truly all about social acceptance and sexy profile pictures. No one picks you up in a bar because you look intelligent.”

At this point, I would hit them with a closing so poignant and relevant that it would guarantee a standing ovation. Or perhaps they would be ecstatic because the speech was so mercifully short.

“And in closing, I would like to…” And here the applause would be so thunderous, I would have to pause “Thank you, thank you, please, let me finish. Ahem, I would like to quote a line from The Real Housewives Countess LuAnn’s classic hit ‘Money Can’t buy you class’

Money can’t buy you class. Elegance is learned, oh yeah. And the primary mistake, texting on a date. If you make a lady wait, she’ll take a pass.

Thank you and congratulations, graduates!”

I realize that I have missed most, if not all of the valedictorian’s speech and now the graduates are lining up. I see my stepdaughter Evelyn getting ready to march up on stage. I am hit with an unexpected wave of pride and immediately become one of “those” parents. You know them. They are big, loud and have piercings in places that seem extremely uncomfortable if not downright unsanitary.

I am up on my feet yelling Evelyn’s name and whooping. I swear to God, I actually whooped. I sense that my husband Paul is distancing himself from me: shrugging his shoulders and rolling his eyes as if to say “I have no idea who this person is” to the strangers around us.

But I am a convert. I can see Evelyn’s future and it is bright and full of promise. I can see my future too, and it is full of a juicy cheeseburger.

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