Magic Jewball

all signs point to no


Who invented graduations and why do they hate people so much?

Filed under : Rants
On June 21, 2006
At 3:55 pm
Comments : 16

Two rants in a row. I am on a freaking roll! But see, this is really an appendix to the last one. Because the other thing to hate about summer, or pre-summer, is the glut of graduation ceremonies. But let me distinguish.

Graduation – a fine, fine thing
Graduation ceremony – torture that makes people envy the inmates at Abu Ghraib

I realize why graduations have to be long and speech-filled. Unlike a wedding or Bar Mitzvah, there is no actual ceremony. The second you hand in your last paper or, in the case of the high school and grade school graduations I just attended, take your last exam or attend your last class, bingo bango, it’s done. So they just sort of artificially inflate the moment to make it last longer.


Since they can’t do that, they have lots of speeches. Then they give each person their diploma while the rest of the class, as well as the people who love them but aren’t so sure anymore, cool their heels. Is this really efficient? Why not just hand over the rolled up scroll on the way in? Oh right, it might not seem like four or eight years was worth it if the ceremony was too short. You know how people say, “My whole wedding just went by in a blur – the time just flew?” Do you ever hear a graduate say that? So it’s not just me, the excruciatingly bored audience member, who feels this way.

And while I’m ranting, why are graduations called commencements? Sure, I get it, you’re beginning a new stage in your life. But have you ever heard of something that has two names, each of which has the exact opposite meaning?

But at least with college graduations there are often interesting speakers. At my graduation, there was a morning and an afternoon part. At one we had Brian Mulroney, then the prime minister of Canada (luckily I had been to enough hockey games to know all the words to “O Canada”) and at the other was Lee Iacoca. Lee Iacoca. You know you’re going to have an auspicious career in business when they get the guy responsible for the biggest bankruptcy ever to give you advice. This year they had Jon Stewart. Why didn’t I get Jon Stewart? I mean, he was hosting Remote Control on MTV back then and everything!

I guess it would have been too much to ask to have Jon speak at my niece’s grade school ceremony, wouldn’t it? Right. Thought so.

Simon & Garfunkel – Mrs. Robinson


16 Comments for this post

  1. Anonymous says:

    I insert Mr. KP’s name into the Joe Dimaggio part of Mrs. Robinson because it sounds so much cooler. I think everyone should really. I hear Joltin’ Joe was not a nice man, and Mr. KP totally rocks.

    Linda Ellerbee spoke at my college graduation I think. I was too busy trying not to die of heatstroke.


  2. Becca says:

    God love you, KP.

  3. Jan says:

    I have no idea who spoke at my college graduation.

    I was too busy trying not to fall out of my chair, I was so hung over.

  4. Terry says:

    My son is having a fifth grade graduation. How silly is that? In the hot gym. This is a three-hour ceremony he said. Tomorrow.

  5. Becca says:

    Terry, I hope your son doesn’t have the same problem as Jan up there.

    And bring a book. Freakonomics is small, light, and easy to hide. Option two, Blackberry or PDA.

  6. sarpon says:

    My oldest daughter’s school has a “stepping up” ceremony at the end of every school year. She’s been going there since second grade, so for the past seven years I have been attending these rites of passage, and every single year the they play a song which the children “sing” along to in American Sign Language. Usually it’s something like “Wind Beneath My Wings” or “I Believe I Can Fly.” And every year the tears stream down my face. I am such a sucker. I’m so glad she graduated 8th grade this year and they won’t get to jerk my heartstings anymore.

  7. Anonymous says:

    Thanks Bec.

    And I think Jesus loves me more than I would know too.

    Whoa whoa whoa.


  8. penguindeb says:

    I can’t remember my college graduation for shit (can i say shit here?) but for my master’s we had bill cosby.

    i dont remember it but i remember liking it at the time.

    Jon stewart would have been awesome!

  9. Shark says:

    We had Anna Quindlen at my college graduation. A chipmunk ran up onto the stage during her speech.

    In law school we had fun playing “spot the sleeping professor”, “giggle at the outraged trustee”, and “listen to that heavy heavy downpour on the metal tent”.

  10. Becca says:

    Sarpon, in this graduation, they had a montage of every graduate (remember, they are 14 years old) as well as a baby picture of them, to show how much they’ve changed (!). Said montage was scored with equally sappy music.

    Shark, you’re lucky. At my sister’s graduation from BU they had a downpour but no tent. Good times, good times.

  11. Anonymous says:

    I would never expect, or even ASK, my sister to show up to that kind of thing for one of my kids. You are a very nice aunt! My mother gets miffed if I exclude her, though, so I have to swear that she isn’t missing anything or she’ll show up at the elementary school “talent” show.

    During my med school graduation, our “speaker” was Red Buttons (or was it Red Skelton? Whichever one is the “comedian.” I’m thinking Red Skelton, now.) He did a “hilarious” pantomime routine, or at least I suppose it might have been hilarious for the people in the first three rows, who could actually glimpse him. We were seated alphabetically…starting BEHIND our guests, at that…so along with Chip Whitworth, Elizabeth Witmer, Beth Young and Chris Zitnay, I saw pretty much nothing.


  12. Becca says:

    Well, see it’s different for me, Celia. I am counting on these kids to take care of me when I’m old. I have to show up.

    PS, it’s too bad you weren’t hung over like Jan.

  13. Culotte says:

    I am such a wonderful child. I deliberately didn’t go to my college graduation because I remember my sister’s as the most boring 4 hours I’ve ever experienced.

    Instead, I spent the day eating ice cream with my boyfriend.

  14. soxy says:

    We had George Bush. The first one. It was fun to watch the secret service dudes in the windows of Alumni Hall. My brother had the CEO of Tyco. Inspiring, huh? It snowed 4 inches the day he graduated.

  15. Alex says:

    Becca, if the Secretary-General of NATO is still as exciting as he was when I graduated from college, I bet his calendar is wide open for elementary-school graduations and what-not.

    Maybe your sister wants to look into this possibility. Especially since most parents of young children are usually eager to catch a nap.

  16. Becca says:

    Culotte, you are quite generous. I, personally, am not getting married because I find other people’s weddings so irritating. Yes, I’m a giver.

    Soxy, I only got the leader of Canada while you got the leader of the free world? No fair.

    Alex, um, I’m going to take a pass on that one, thanks.

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