Advice to grads: Never marry a Kardashian

Published 10:28 am Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Column: Tales from Exit 22

Graduates, parents, teachers, distinguished alumni, undistinguished alumni, alumni out on parole, those who are here only because they thought there would be food and everyone else — you know who you are. It’s an honor to speak to you.

I well remember the commencement speech that was given when I graduated from high school. “Nothing matters and what if it did.” No, wait. That wasn’t the speech. That’s a John Cougar Mellencamp album. I think John was a cougar on his mother’s side. I don’t remember who the speaker at my graduation was, but I’ll never forget what he or she said.

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That was wrong. Apparently, I have forgotten.

Now I remember. I can picture him or her on the stage as he or she said, “Graduates. I’m so proud that you graduated instead of quituated. Don’t forget to always remember this. You will never know what it is, but it isn’t where you thought it was. Everything is too far from where it is, but you can only see where you wish it were. You need to take the time to stop and sell the roses.”

Sell the roses? Maybe that isn’t exactly what the speaker said, but whatever it was, it made no sense at all even if I would have been listening. However, it had a profound effect upon me.

Not really, but it did remind me of something. Remember knocking timidly on a door. You were just a kid and you were selling roses, candy, magazines, cookies, Christmas decorations, salve or pocket lint. You had hoped that your parents or grandparents would buy it all so you wouldn’t need to sell any. Unfortunately, they weren’t crazy. You were selling for a good cause — to support your school, the band, 4-H, Girl Scouts, FFA, the varsity tater tot hotdish eating team, your grandmother’s lefse addiction, etc.

You were anxious as you waited for someone to answer the door. You could hear a man’s muffled voice that sounded as if it were saying, “Why is someone knocking. We have a doorbell. Oh, no, what’s that pest selling now?”

That might not have been what was said, but it sounded like it to you. You were a little paranoid. You didn’t want to be there. The man answering the door didn’t want you to be there.

That man bought whatever you were selling because he once sold the same thing.

The important thing is that you hung in there and sold the stuff. You did what needed to be done. You won some treasured memento for your sales exploits. Something like a goat-vomit green stuffed cow with the name of your school misspelled on it.

Life is selling junk you don’t want to sell. Life is like pushing a shopping cart through a store. You’ll see many things you want, but you’ll have a successful trip if you find what you need.

Education is good, but it’s not perfect. After all, someone with an education came up with robocalling and reality TV.

My job today is to give you some advice. It doesn’t matter if I follow it or not. Here it goes.

Faulkner said, “The man who removes a mountain begins by carrying away small stones.” I say rent mountain-moving equipment.

Get plenty of fiber in your diet. If you are the kind who tends to forget such things, eat a sofa cushion once a year. That should cover you.

It’s OK to be a little nervous about things. Life is never pointless when you are on pins and needles.

The future is yours — minus $50,133.29, your individual share of the national debt.

The three wisest words you’ll ever say are, “I don’t know.” I don’t know why that is.

Never tattoo anyone’s name onto any part of your body unless it’s also the actual name of that body part.

We won’t have another like you. That’s not all bad.

You will have more than your share of disappointments. Everyone does. You should be disappointed if you don’t.

Never sell a kidney to repay school loans.

Be positive. It’s a plus.

Guys, try not to marry a Kardashian. Girls, try not to marry anyone who would marry a Kardashian.

No matter where you go or what you do in life, always remember one thing. If you are able to do something to make my life better, I will like you.

Oh, and if a kid knocks on your door, selling something, do what needs to be done and buy it.


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