Remembering a graduation embarrassment


The countdown for my son is down to a few hours. He’s down to his final hours of high school. He took his last final exam on Tuesday and he’s got just a few hours of graduation practice left with the rest of his class before “walking” to pick up his diploma on Friday.

From the sounds of it, graduation practice hasn’t changed much in the decades since I had my own. I get the sense that herding cats would probably be more enjoyable, but it’s still a necessary evil.

In any event, he’s excited for graduation to get here. I advised him  to try to soak it all in, to enjoy the pomp and circumstance and to enjoy the moment. In particular, I told him that his graduation ceremony had to be better than my college graduation.

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The guest speaker that day went on-and-one. Now he was a titan in the business world, an early pioneer in the public relations field and he had a ton of great stories, some of which I would’ve loved to have heard in class, but by this point I was done. I was ready to say sayonara to college. I feared that his speech might be my college’s last, albeit lame, attempt to ransom a few extra dollars from us students.

During the speaker’s extended commentary, my graduation gown got stuck on a sharp piece of the auditorium seat. When the school president told us to stand up to switch our graduation tassel from right to left to signify that we were now graduates, the guy behind me stepped on my gown and I heard a rip in the flimsy material, loud enough for people five and six rows back to hear. I feared that the rip went up the entire backside of my gown and that it would fall off my shoulders in shreds.

Of course, everything was fine, but it still made for an eventful walk to the stage to pick up my diploma, as I tried to crane and rotate my neck in a 360 degree owl-like swivel, to see how big of a bite had been taken out of the gown. 

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Fortunately, I soon gave up and threw away any cares. I would’ve walked up on stage naked if necessary. Hell or high way, I was going to come away with my diploma in my hands. I had worked too hard to not come away with the piece of paper testifying that I had successfully completed the required courses for my bachelor of arts. I wasn’t going to walk away empty-handed.  

I’m not sure my son feels the same way, but give him some time. He just might feel that way by the time graduation practice is over.

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