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Sunday, May 22, 2005

pompous circumstance

ah, may! the flowers are blooming, the sun is out, the pheromones are flowing. what's more, 'tis the season of college graduations. commencement! college ends and adulthood begins!

mr nice guy's very own cousin is graduating from amherst college today ... this very moment even. i remember when she was born, so wee was she. it touches my heart's whispering valves to know that she is all grown up, that she was never carried off by wild dogs. for obvious reasons, mr nice guy could not be in attendance. but auntie nice guy, being the diligent mother hen that she is, sent out a supplication earlier this week (nothing gets mr nice guy's hackles up like an email with the subject line reading: "a small request/assignment," but he read it anyway). it was an interesting challenge. it seems my cousin was sad that no one special was speaking at her commencement, so her mom asked a bunch of family and friends to write their very own brief commencement speeches, to be read at lunch following the ceremony. of course, i'd be happy to share with my cousin a few of the insights i have gleaned from life the hard way--on the streets.

so i wrote a little something. i believe it may have taken the wrong offramp from the information superhighway, for i never received tearful thanks from my aunt. surely the only reason she hasn't acknowledged its receipt is that it either got lost or she was so deeply touched that she has slipped into an ecstatic coma, unable to type a simple thank you note.

lucky for you, i have saved my sage graduation ponderings and am reprinting them here. this speech, soon to be canonized in the annals of all-time great commencement addresses, has been modified to fit the format of your computer screen:

Pimpin' Circumstance, by Mr Nice Guy

Cousin Nice Guy. If you are looking for words of earth shattering wisdom and breathtaking insightfulness on the occasion of your graduation, man, you have come to the right place. As you may know I graduated from college in 1996, which, if my humanities degree serves me right, was 47 years ago when Calvin Coolidge was president. 1996. A youthful nation turned its hopeful eyes to Mel Gibson's "Braveheart." 1996. A little group called Los Del Rio was taking the country by storm with their hit single "Macarena," and as we now know has since proven wrong all the cynics who called them "one hit wonders" and "talentless." 1996. My dreams had not yet been crushed by the oppressive weight of despair at my rapidly approaching death. Ah, sweet 1996.

I think you will find that being a college graduate is very useful. You should be proud to belong to an elite club that includes such esteemed members as myself, Bill O'Reilly, Lynndie England, the Unabomber, almost every cast member of the Real World, OJ Simpson and our president. The list goes on. Indeed, without this degree, you almost certainly wouldn't be attending commencement ceremonies this week.

Anyway, as you can tell, I am a font of wisdom. If you ever need help navigating the torpid waters of life, I am at your beck. (I said torpid waters and I meant torpid waters. If you want help with torrid waters, ask someone else.) As I type this I sit in Brooklyn with a brand new beautiful baby girl who I am pretty sure is mine. Believe it or not, I recall holding you right after you were born. I was probably around nine years old. Man you were a big baby. Cute too. What happened? Your parents did the best they could. They told me. Auntie Nice Guy called me last week and said "Mr. Nice Guy, I did the best I could. You were there; you saw the raw materials I was working with. Depressing. That's why I had two more kids. Between you and me, it's a miracle she ever figured out that her fingers were attached to her hand much less made it through a third-rate mental ward like Amherst. I did the best I could." Of course, that's between me and your mother, so you'll never hear me repeating it.

Anyway, now you're graduating and now I have a baby girl. Naturally I am thinking deep thoughts at a time like this. Having done the college thing, the job thing, the marriage thing and, now, the dad thing, I can tell you I have earned some knowledge in this world. I know that at this moment of your life, you are reflecting on adulthood and I know what you're wondering: what does Mr Nice Guy have to teach me? Well let me tell you one or two things that you probably didn't learn in that fancypants lockjawed Northeastern college of yours. I learned these nuggets of truth in the school of hard knocks, baby. Grab a pen. Here goes:

  1. All the Microsoft spell-check in the world won't save your ass when you write a letter to the New York Pubic Library.
  2. No matter how badly you think you need the money, those pictures will end up on the Internet and get forwarded to your wife. And your boss. And your aunt. Sorry about that, Auntie Nice Guy.
  3. A night in a Tuscaloosa jail with a cellmate named Fat Jenny feels a lot longer than 12 hours. But you walk out with a friend for life.

Whatever. That's not what matters right now. Right now, what matters is that I have to go: my daughter, your new cousin, just barfed on something, which is definitely not something you ever did in college. So congratulations, Cousin Nice Guy. None of us thought you could do it. Here are a few words of wisdom from a very smart man who had the misfortune of being French. His name was Voltaire. He said this: "To succeed in the world it is not enough to be stupid, you must also be well-mannered." And let me add this: Godspeed.


Blogger Candace said...

If I had had those words of wisdom at my beck and call when I graduated from college, I might well be a successful, high-priced madame or even, God willing, call girl in Hollywood.


5/22/2005 6:26 PM  
Anonymous Gerah said...

(Standing in front of my computer and applauding.)

5/22/2005 10:25 PM  
Blogger wrecking_ball said...

And to think B.U. had to make do with Hamid Karzai...

-- a fellow '96 grad

5/23/2005 8:55 AM  
Anonymous Kim said...

I predict that this will replace the ubiquitous email forward "Wear Sunscreen" and omnipresent grad gift "Oh the Places You'll Go" just as soon as the rest of the world loses their souls as we, your readers, already have.

And lo, the world will be a better place.

5/23/2005 12:33 PM  
Blogger Beanie said...

Definitely should garner a standing ovation. If only my graduation this weekend is half as entertaining.

5/23/2005 3:11 PM  

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