(This classic Dave Barry column was originally published Sunday, May 27, 2001)
Commencement Address to the College Class of 2001: As I gaze upon your eager young faces, I am reminded of the words of a wise old dead person, who said, and I quote: "As you go through life, always remember one thing."
Keep those words in mind, Class of 2001, because you are about to go forth into the world, where you will, God willing, have dinner with your parents. But before you do, I have some important advice for you: Return your rental commencement gowns! Otherwise you'll forfeit your $100 deposit, which would be a steep price to pay for a garment that, as you'll discover if you take a whiff of the armpit region, is still giving off b.o. fumes from graduates dating back to 1973.
Let those aromas serve as a reminder that you, the Class of 2001, are but the latest link in a long chain of graduates who have gone forth from this fine college or university. Like them, you are eager to start applying the knowledge you have acquired during countless hours of studying in the library. Here I am of course lying about what you did in college, for the benefit of your parents, who - after paying tuition bills adding up to the gross national product of Ecuador - are better off not knowing that you spent the bulk of your academic career seeing how high you could stack empty Budweiser cans.
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In any event, I am confident that you, the Class of 2001, will be a big whacking success. But I hope you will also remember the debt of gratitude you owe to the generations that went forth before you, especially my generation, the Baby Boomers. For it was we Boomers - often admiringly referred to as "The Largest Generation" - who created modern-day America; who inherited what was basically an untamed wilderness and built it up, with our bare hands, into the great nation it is today.
OK, technically we Boomers did not build the nation. We have trouble assembling our barbecue grills. The nation was constructed by large hairy men before we got here. But we Boomers did overcome many brutal hardships. For example, when we were growing up - and forgive me if my voice trembles with emotion as I recall those painful times - we had no cellphones. That's right, Class of 2001: When we needed our moms to come pick us up at the mall, we had to walk, manually, until we found a pay phone - sometimes dozens of yards away!
Yet, somehow, we Boomers survived. Eventually, as our parents started keeling over from heart attacks caused by watching how we raised our own kids, we took their place as America's leaders. Today, we're in charge of everything. But we're getting old and tired. We no longer have a fire in our belly. Our belly now contains what appears to be a volleyball filled with rubber cement.
And so the time has come for us to step down, to pass the torch on to you, the younger generation. Are you ready to take it, Class of 2001? You are? Well tough noogies! We're not giving it up! We LOVE holding the torch. We were very depressed in 1999 when it looked like all these young dot-com millionaire punks were going to take our torch, and we were thrilled when the economy collapsed on them. We would frankly rather have a worldwide depression than give the torch to somebody with an eyebrow ring.
Fortunately, the economy continues to look pretty bad, which means that you, the Class of 2001, will be going forth into a world where you'll have to work for us. Isn't that great, Class of 2001? Because we Boomers are still "hip." You'll see! I guarantee you that, if you get a job at a corporation, sooner or later, you'll find yourself at some fun mandatory corporate social event, and the band (We Boomers pick the band) will launch into a popular song from the Boomers' favorite era (the past). All around you, members of upper management - the people who control your fate - will start lurching around on the dance floor, their volleyballs bouncing violently up and down, and they'll sing, with heartfelt emotion, the Boomer Anthem: "Jeremiah was a bullfrog! Was a good friend of mine!"
Won't that be FUN, Class of 2001? Sing along! Joy to the World! Or else! Maybe you could hide out for a couple more years here in college. Nobody will look for you in the library.
(c) 2010, Dave Barry
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