My wife’s nephew graduated from high school last weekend, a joyous occasion all around, especially since his mother sat in a completely different part of the amphitheater. This meant that at no time before, during, or after the ceremony did we have to clench our jaws into a frozen and completely insincere smile aimed in her general direction.
While I was enjoying not clenching my jaw, I observed a few things about this ceremony that were just a tad different from the day I graduated from high school – which, although it was some 41 years ago, seems like yesterday. For instance:
At my ceremony, not one of the girls talked about how proud she was to be setting an example for her daughter by getting her diploma. If memory serves, the first girl to have a child in my high school class was actually married at the time. Notice I didn’t say, “the first girl to get pregnant.” We did not talk of those things in those days.
- No one at my ceremony was dressed in an outfit that bared their midriff, the better to show off a pierced navel. The only time the word “pierce” was mentioned is when my classmate Matt got his diploma.
- No one wore a jersey with the name and number of their favorite sports star. Everyone wore actual clothing appropriate for a graduation ceremony.
- Family members arrived before it began and left after it was over. It wasn’t like a cocktail party that you dropped in on whenever it was convenient to your schedule.
- When my high school’s principal asked that family members hold their applause until all the graduates had received their diplomas, family members held their applause until all the graduates had received their diplomas. At last weekend’s ceremony, no one made such a request and no one would have complied anyway.
- No one brought a klaxon horn to blow at the mention of particular graduates. Last weekend, I couldn’t tell if we were celebrating or moving to DEFCON 2.
Some traditions were observed, I’m happy to say. Everyone seemed genuinely happy at being paroled from high school, an emotion that never really goes out of style. The whole switching-the-tassel from one side to the other went smoothly. The go-out-and-make-the-world-better mantra still reigned in a lot of the speeches, because apparently all these decades later, the world still sucks.
And kids keep growing up and getting older, which kind of sucks too.