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In My Opinion

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Summa cum lawd-loudy

By Celia Rivenbark

For reasons that I can’t fathom, unless it’s because I write too often about flatulence and the TV characters that I believe are my Real Family, nobody has ever asked me to give a commencement speech. After 20 plus years as a syndicated humor columnist, it’s a rather embarrassing hole in the old resume'. It’s not that I haven’t hinted about my availability. But usually the response is on the order of a rather underwhelmed “Well, yes. Uh. I guess you could sit in the balcony with the screaming babies but it gets pretty hot up there.”

Duh Hubby has even given a commencement speech. It was beautiful.

Would’ve brought tears to a glass eye. Seriously. My cousin has a glass eye and I totally saw some seepage.

This is a fact which Duh continues to hold over my mortarboard-less head. As in: “I was just recalling my commencement speech the other day. But then, I imagine, so do a lot of people…”

I was asked to speak at a convocation at the community college I attended years ago but I had no idea what a convocation was and was scared to ask. For all I knew, it was like one of those medieval fairs and I’d have to wear some kind of Renaissance wench costume. Pass.

There are all sorts of graduation-related words and phrases that we only have to hear once a year, if we’re lucky. Words like “baccalaureate,” a religious service before the graduation that comes from the Latin words “bacca” for “It’s really hot” and “laureate” for “up in this robe.” There’s also “magna cum laude” and “summa cum laude.” Some people say “lawd” and others say “loudy.” If you’re confused, just say “lawd-loudy.” Yeah, that’s not weird.

Years ago, a prissy friend bragged that her daughter was graduating “summa cum laude” and when a young Princess asked, “What does that mean?” I said, “It means with chips and salsa.”

Technically, I was asked to speak at a pre-graduation gathering of high schoolers a couple of years ago. I wrapped up my remarks by telling them that I had never made a B in high school They rolled their eyes at my bragging but I won them back with the closer: “Of course, I never made an A either!”

So, yay me.

I should mention that unless somebody’s planning to give me one of those honorary degrees (a doctorate, nothing less, on account of the pom pom hat that comes with), I would probably do a lousy commencement speech or just steal one from a TED talk and then everybody would be all judgy and use words like “plagiarist” and “C-student” and “really sweaty from being up in the balcony for a long time.”

So, because I'll probably never get a chance, here’s my nutshell advice for this year’s grads: “Open your mind, give ‘til it hurts and never throw your gum where somebody could step on it.” Done.

rivenbark.com

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