Sunday, May 01, 2005

Pomp and circumstantial evidence

It's May first, which means another installment in the ongoing dubious public service I perform at the beginning of each month: The monthly posting of "Last Laugh", my humor column in Northern Arizona's Mountain Living Magazine. It's also a good reminder that my deadline for the June column is today. Huh. Anyway, enjoy. It doesn't appear to be nearly as bad as it seemed when I wrote it:

I’ve never been invited to give a speech at graduation. That’s most likely because my own academic career was, to use some cutting-edge academic terminology, “bad.” I was one of those college students that the counselors always described as “having a lot of potential”, because it was more diplomatic than saying my math aptitude was the same as a bowl of goldfish. Pepperidge Farm.

I lasted a year-and-a-half at my first university, about enough time for my grade point average to reach a level that would have looked great – had a been a pitcher trying to win the Cy Young Award. I was, well, lazy. The academic highlight of my first 18 months of college was failing “Introduction to Computer Science” – the kind of class where you receive a “C” for successfully identifying the monitor. My problem with the course was that it met at 8:00 am, which effectively dissuaded me from ever attending. I actually filled out the necessary paperwork to drop the class but, being lazy, never got around to getting it signed, or sending it in.

It took five years and three colleges, but I finally learned the importance of going to class, and the last of the three schools finally gave me a diploma. But they never invited me to speak at graduation.

Here in Flagstaff, I’ve been privileged – thanks to my radio career – to speak at commencement ceremonies for the last three years. But reading thousands of names as gown-clad college students cross the stage hasn’t allowed me to impart the wisdom of my life experiences on departing students. Thank goodness for this column, as I now present the Class of 2005 with some key lessons. As an added bonus, I’ll try to use the term “pomp” without also mentioning “circumstance.”

Class of 2005, as you head off into a world that not only features “Mini Oreos” but also “Chocolate Lucky Charms”, keep a few things in mind:

You weren’t nearly as cool a college student as you think you were. My roommates and I thought we were the coolest thing since fish-shaped neckties when we hit on the idea of bringing four TVs into our suite to watch sports one Sunday afternoon. Had we been cool, we could have invented the sports bar. As it turned out, we ran out of football games after three TVs and were forced to tune the fourth to “Bowling for Dollars”.

It doesn’t matter how many varieties the dining hall has on hand -- cereal is not one of the major food groups. Ramen isn’t either, but get to know this important substance well.

In the high finance boardroom, the question “Is this going to be on the final?” is rarely heard. Nor is the word “pomp.”

And finally, now that you’ve finished the last of 73,000 essays you’ve written since 6th grade, I’ll let you in on a secret: There are relatively few jobs where you have to crank out 500 words on a different topic all the time. Writing a column is one of them. That’s what you get for failing Intro to Computer Science.

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