A curmudgeonly commencement speech

I have a good friend who is affectionately known to me as the “crusty curmudgeon.”

His view of life is, shall we say, a bit different than most.

He is a strong supporter of our area’s public schools, and I’m sure he shares a keen interest in the stories of this year’s graduating class which, by all definitions, is a graduating class like no other.

Because of the Crusty Curmudgeon’s unique perspective on the world around us, I wondered what it might be like had there been graduation speeches this year, what sage advice he would have offered students.

I suspect it might have looked something like this:

“Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears … oops, that is the wrong speech. Sorry about that, guys and gals.

“Let me see, oh yes, here it is. To you, the graduating class of 2020, I put together some of my thoughts while in quarantine. While scattered from here to there, I consider them some of my best nuggets from the School of Hard Knocks, from which I graduated as its valedictorian.

“Some might consider my advice trivial … just an old man’s idle prattle.

“That’s OK. You can formulate your own opinions. I extend to you that liberty, just so long as you can explain to me the difference between presumption and assumption. One is a good thing, while the other comes with a warning label. I would hate to assume you might go through life without knowing the difference.

“Are you like me these days? The other night, after working on this address, I was watching television and was wondering why people were not practicing social distancing on the television screen. For heaven’s sake, folks, it is six feet, not six inches!

“How are you kids handling dating these days? Do the young ladies have to wear hoop skirts to keep six feet apart? What about the guys — hoola hoops? And what about a hug or kiss? Come to think of it, it has been so long … does anyone remember a hug or a kiss?

“Forty years ago, the graduating class of 1980 were all playing a brand-new video game called ‘Pac-Man.’ You know, 40 years later, I feel like I’ve returned to those days whenever I go to the grocery store. I avoid everyone, get the fruit, and take any route possible to avoid contact.

“Boy, this quarantine has brought back the memories.

“In many ways, I feel like I am your age all over again. You know, gas is cheap, yet I’m grounded. Some things seem like they never change.

“One thing that is changing these days is the color of people’s hair. Do you realize that we are but a few days away from knowing everyone’s true hair color? Those root colors are getting longer and longer.

“During my childhood, no one ever went anywhere over spring break. We never went to a restaurant, and Mom and Dad never signed us up for anything like sports, dance, or summer camp. The kids this year are finding out many of those same things.

“Did you keep up with the books while you were away from school? Just this week, I personally finished three new ones. And, believe me, that was a lot of coloring!

“Finally graduating seniors, if your parents are older and want to go out, forbid them. If they complain and say, ‘But everyone else is doing it,’ tell them, ‘You’re not everyone.’ This is your time to turn the table.

“Seriously, graduates of 2020, yours is a very special class. Go forth and make all your dreams come true.”

Bill Speer can be reached at 989-354-3111, ext. 311, or bspeer@thealpenanews.com. Follow him on Twitter @billspeer13.


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