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Keen words of advice for 2013 graduates

Published 10:41am Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Column: Tales From Exit 22, by Al Batt


Your days of avoiding real life are finally over.

You have graduated.

Thank you for attending something that you want to end as soon as possible.

“Commencement” is an old Norwegian word meaning, “my butt is asleep.”

I see tears. Dr. Seuss said, “Don’t cry because it’s over. Smile because it happened.”

I apologize for calling your school by the wrong name. That’s what happens when you don’t pay the graduation speaker enough. Rutgers University paid former “Jersey Shore” reality TV series star Snooki $32,000 for speaking and Nobel Prize-winning author Toni Morrison $30,000 for a commencement speech. Snooki covered the three things that most speakers do — her hair, fist pumps and GTL (gym, tan, laundry). She offered bits of wisdom such as, “When you’re tan, you feel better about yourself,” and “Study hard, but party harder.”

It was suggested that an earthquake in California on that same day was caused by shudders running up and down spines.

You would be better served by heeding Emily Dickinson’s statement, “Girls rule, boys drool.” She might have thought that, but what she actually wrote was, “I dwell in possibility.”

I can’t top Snooki’s advice or paycheck, but I have a few things to tell you. I won’t say many worthwhile things, because you won’t remember them anyway. That’s because you are having a senior moment. I offer less wisdom than a canoe paddle could slap into the rear end of a gnat, but lean in close and listen to what one wise in ways that only he understands has to say.

You. Yes, you wearing the cap and gown. At the appointed time, you will move your tassel from right to left. Or from left to right. Or from front to back. Or maybe you’ll have it detasseled. Then what?

For starters, put that bumper sticker reading “Yeah, I know” on your car. Place it over the “How is my texting?” bumper sticker.

It’s time to stop spreading the rumor that the valedictorian is the valedictorian because she was the only one in the class who could spell it. Some of you will fall victim to higher learning. You will figure things out or you won’t. Some of your wisdom will be delayed. There’s a lot of traffic out there.

You might feel that you aren’t prepared for real life. You’re right. You aren’t the only apple on that tree.

We didn’t have so many vampires when I was your age. We had hickeys. Despite that, I’ve learned some things during my time on the planet. Here are a few of those.

You have graduated. That means that, on average, you’ll make more money than someone who didn’t graduate. You may still cling to an elusive dream, but you’ll have better jobs, homes, cars, cellphones, vacations, insurance, etc. That’s worth thanking a teacher. It’s a small price to pay for all that you’ll have. After all, your teachers squeezed blood out of turnips.

Before you criticize a man, walk a mile in his shoes. Then criticize him. It will be safer. You’ll have his shoes and you’ll be a mile away.

A University of Maryland study found that if you want to be happier, you should read a newspaper.

Little things are the big things. Be nice. Do the right thing at the right time in the right way for the right reason.

Keep a pen or pencil handy. There will be times when you’ll need to write things down.

Eat your vegetables. Especially the ones you don’t like.

You’ll always have homework.

Not everything needs to change.

There is fine print in everything.

You’ll never be able to afford everything you want.

Thank people often. Send thank-you notes or get a thank-you tattoo.

Take a jacket. It will please your mother.

A new cellphone may have memory, but it’s up to you to make memories.

There are no magic clothes. Clothes don’t make pounds disappear.

Blinkers lie.

Clean your room before leaving home.

John Wooden said, “Don’t let what you cannot do interfere with what you can do.”

The world is round, but you still must be careful going around the corners.

I was in the bowels of an airport one day when I saw a caged Vietnamese pot-bellied pig being loaded into an airplane.

Things happen when pigs fly.

Pigs are flying, and you’ve graduated.

In the movie “The Graduate,” his father’s business associate gave the new graduate a single word of career advice, “Plastics.”

My one word of advice to you is, “Fiber.”

You’ll see.


Hartland resident Al Batt’s columns appear every Wednesday and Sunday.