Column: Dispensing wisdom that will be with graduates always

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, June 12, 2002

Okay, it’s time for the truth. How many of you who graduated from a learning institution over a year ago remember what the commencement speaker said?

Oh, I am sure he spoke of the future in idealistic terms and threw in a bunch of grand phrases meant to inspire you to incredible accomplishments. You don’t remember, do you? Maybe you fell asleep during the talk? It happens.

I have graduated and I have attended a number of graduations. Some of the speeches were almost as long as high school itself. Others were as painful as being hit in a sensitive area during a spirited game of gym class dodgeball. I have been to ceremonies in auditoriums filled with mortarboards and I have been to one with as few as three graduates &045; the class valedictorian, the salutatorian and the other guy.

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I can pick on these speakers because I have never been one and I have advice to give. We all have lots of advice to give. Let’s face it, advice can be a hard commodity to unload. I hope you are asking yourself, &uot;Okay, you old windbag, if you were a commencement speaker, what kind of moronic advice would you dispense?&uot; Well, thank you for asking, I think. Here are some of the insightful comments that the few graduates who remained awake would hear from me.

&uot;Thank you for allowing me to talk to you on your big day. Please listen carefully, as I am the only thing standing between you and the rest of your life. I want you all to do well in life because my Social Security retirement check will depend upon you. Because of that, I will give you good advice.

&uot;I want you to do well, but it will all be up to you. Nobody owes you a living. I want to pass along to you my Grandma’s three keys to happiness: Always take a coat, never miss a chance to put your feet up and never pass up an opportunity to go to the bathroom. Run while you are still able. Run to get the mail. Run with the dog. Run just because you can. One day you will be unable to.

&uot;Always vote &045; it gives you the right to complain. Family and friends will make you angry. Teach them a lesson by forgiving them.

Whenever you get to feeling a little bit useless, volunteer. The teachers are just as happy to see you go as you are to leave. Never buy a used car that has a radio with all of its channel buttons programmed to heavy metal music stations. Always remember that a corporation has no conscience. There are many more bad movies than good ones. Call your mother even when you don’t need money. Admit when you are wrong &045; you will have plenty of opportunities.

&uot;Choose your tattoos carefully, as they are difficult to remove. Expect to put on weight. Try not to pay your credit card bill with another credit card. There is no cure for the common cold. An athlete is not a hero just because he is a good athlete. Learn how to make a couple of hotdishes. If you want to know what kind of a roommate someone would make, check out the backseat of his car. Think about retirement. Always do in moderation the things that you hate to do.

&uot;Remember that moss doesn’t grow on a Rolling Stone, although Mick Jagger may have a fungus or two on him. Make friends with a dog. You will spend time waiting for the electrician, the plumber and the cable guy. On the other hand, your spouse will always be early when you are late. Marry well. Never go shopping with your grandmother if you are in a hurry. If you want to see how good a lifetime guarantee is, visit a cemetery. Learn to make change.

&uot;Always fasten your seatbelt. You would feel pretty stupid if the only reason you died was that you didn’t use your seatbelt. Practice parallel parking. Get enough sleep.

&uot;A few faults make you interesting. A lot of faults make you irritating.

&uot;Read more and watch less TV. Discover what you like to do and find a way to make a living at it. Respect your elders. Enjoy nature. Make up your mind to be happy. Never let a kind word go unsaid. Tell people that you love them. Thank a teacher &045; often. I hope that someday each of you will have a child just like you. Make sure your diploma is signed before you leave the auditorium.

&uot;Have fun. I’m done. Let’s eat.&uot;

Hartland resident Al Batt writes columns for the Wednesday and Sunday editions of the Tribune.