Commencement speaker



We were going to invite Jesus Christ to come speak at our school, but the trouble was some said he was Jewish, while others said he wasn’t Jewish enough. Of course there were those who said he didn’t exist, like Santa Claus, and then someone got off on this whole tangent about how the smelly fat man, or was it his smelly costume, stayed with him (he the complainer) forever, and we did not want this solemn occasion overpowering the stench of the pretty flowers on stage.

The names kept going round and round, like the wagons circling in a western, but it was like the rifles and arrows kept hitting both the settlers and the Indians, it was a very complicated thing, this selecting one man or woman for the job. And then we couldn’t find a transsexual or transvestite good enough and even at our august institution of learning it appeared, but was never fully confirmed, mind you, that some were not really sure what constituted external and internal sexual organs or if sexual orientation was a kind of fluidity and if that would go nicely with the music that was planned, on account of pomp and circumstance having been banned as too overtly politically incorrect to even be allowed to play in a gesture making it somehow all politically correct, but not in a way that would offend political incorrectness either.

Putin was easy to discard as a choice. Too many men and women would swoon at the sight of his bare torso and chest. Even his nipples would get a sunburn during the outdoors ceremony and applying sun screen would interfere with the lights and recording for posterity the event. Besides, Vladimir would insist on bringing his horse and some thought that was very cruel, to subject a horse to a graduation ceremony, much more cruel than these noble creatures having to navigate trough traffic or a too-natural looking environment like Central Park, where they might get off the trodden path and twist a horse ankle.

Angela Merkel was out of the question. Her sense of fashion did not have enough finesse. Going further back in history, we considered Adolf Hitler–after all, the man loved animals, was a vegetarian reportedly, spoke a foreign language, had artistic inclinations and almost studied art, but there was a problem with resurrection, the whole cost, and we were not sure he would defrost quickly or properly enough for our fine event.

Someone suggested, and I quote, “a bum off the street,” to show how we were embracing hegemony, but the problem of the Jesus hygiene came up again. Another said how about a dummy from Bergdorf & Goodman, and you can imagine where that conversation ended, though it was a very useful, we all agreed, teaching moment, to consider the form of the body and also maybe to include in the graduation pamphlet information about eating disorders.

We were just beside ourselves, the clock ticking, thinking all the good ones would be gone, when the duality of Anderson Cooper and Kathy Griffin like the impending drop of a giant ball visited upon us, but it was pointed out what would a suitable role for Ryan Seacrest be, we could not just have him standing by holding a bouquet of flowers, however pretty, because it would remind people of a bride being left at the altar.

Finally, all of our appeals to logic and unreason almost exhausted, someone, we supposedly don’t know who, suggested what was ingenious and a light bulb went on, as we sent a huge truck down to Texas, and you know where this is heading if you have the kind of sensitivity we wish our audience for commencement exercises to have, to pick up lock, stock, and barrel one of the death row inmates, and our great plant operations folks who never get enough credit, not even a mere mention of being the ones who have fertilized and carefully honed the green, green grass upon which we stick the legs of the graduation chairs in deeper as graduates sit with their weight and pumps, they, being the plant ops people, they made such a beautiful throne for our commencement speaker, and everything with wiring and amplifiers for sound, teamwork with IT, was set up and when the speaker was finished, there was a countdown, reminiscent of the days we did not have to ask the Russians for a ride to the moon, and our commencement speaker, he was quiet, someone who would hold no more graduation speeches, and just as people say, people forgot what he had to say during the ceremony, but everyone remembered our speaker, and there were even comments, chuckles, guffaws, and other sounds bordering, some say, on bad taste, as people for years discussed commencement at our school. In an anti-climatic ending, donations to the foundation were noticeably up for several years, and at the time of which a noticeable decline in the spike was detected, the wise people of the college came together again to make the difficult decision of just what kind of speaker our august college should invite.

Author Bio:Ulf teaches English at Darton State College in Albany, GA