Sunday, June 4, 2017

Pomp and Circumstance

It's that time of year again - when everyone somewhere is having a graduation party.

This year my wife's school honored those who graduated not only 50 years ago, but also those who graduated 75 years ago.  My wife was in the 50 year bracket... I'm not THAT old. LOL.

It was interesting to see the difference between graduation when I graduated back in 1965, my wife in 1967 and those who graduated today.  In fact, I was noticing a lot of differences regarding the many facets of the graduation.

Hats. Boards. Whatever you want to call them - those funny square things on your head with the tassel dangling to one side.  Back in the "olde" days, they were sacred, held with reverence, etc and yada, yada.  Today, they are marked up with phrases, pictures, bedazzled and anything else you can think of.  Today I saw phrases written in stark contrast pen, several collages of pictures, a few bejeweled and bedazzled with stones and glitter, a couple with flowers and one even had a couple of butterflies on it. To say "interesting" would be mild.

When I graduated, I briskly walked across the stage, shook hands while my other hand held the diploma, a quick smile to my parents who had their cameras ready and as I walked off the stage, I moved the tassel to the opposite side to denote my graduation.  Today?  No pictures allowed ... or should I say, no flashes allowed.  There was a professional photographer taking a picture of each student graduating, a posed picture. Once everyone had their diploma and everyone was back at their seat, one student came forward, faced the graduation group and in unison, they moved the tassel to the other side with a small amount of hooting and fanfare.

Processional. There was some decorum in the introduction of the graduating class as they marched into the auditorium and up onto the stage.  Of course, the high school (.less seniors) performed the rite of passage - Pomp and Circumstance.  Eh.  No critique.  The band also played the music for the now graduated seniors as the left the auditorium.  Oh, wait.  This was new.  The students, rather than walking straight down the aisle, walked across in front of the stage, criss-crossing with the opposite side and each of them met in the middle - they did a little "something" to make it unique.  Some did a double-slap high-5, others did a hug, some did a butt-bump, some shook hands. Each couple attempted to be different than the couple before them.  Definitely not like the stiff and staunch march I had to perform at my graduation.  I think I liked it.

Graduation parties.  Wow.  My party was very low key.  I had about 10 people there, only 4 of which were graduating student friends.  I mean, almost everyone else was having family graduation parties, so I was thrilled to have a couple of friends to join my family party. We had NO family near us when I was growing up - no aunts, no uncles, no cousins, no grandparents.  My mom was from NYC, my dad was from Iowa.  I was raised in Ohio.  I had friends.

Saturday, coming through Toledo, I saw people getting ready for all the different parties.  What I found truly interesting, I noticed one guy out hammering stakes in his yard to show his property lines. Here's the cool part - he was putting up "No Parking" signs and a couple of "Private Property" signs. I'm not sure, but I'm guessing there "ain't a whole lot of neighborly love" right there.  The other guy who obviously was having the party, had tents, coolers, banners, and all sorts of party regalia up blowing in the breeze - in the yard, in the trees, on the house, over the garage. We are talking PARTY!

Memories. The speeches today kept repeating over and over - this is the last time you will all be together as a group. Never again will you all be together in one spot.  In my head, I could hear so many of those graduates mentally thinking: Yeah, yeah, we'll all get together for our 5 year reunion.

No, you won't. Surprise! Today was your last day together as a group. Tomorrow, next month, next year, as terrible as this sounds, one of your old schoolmates will bite the dust. That's right, they'll die. Or, they'll be in surgery or overseas, or not get the notification or one of a thousand other reasons for them not to be there.  How do I know?  One of my classmates passed two weeks prior to our 50th reunion.  I had to skip the 40th reunion due to a quadruple bypass surgery.  One of our classmates has fallen off the face of the earth - we have NO contacts for him - no parents, no relatives, no siblings. He graduated and that is the last we saw him. I graduated during the Vietnam era but I can proudly say, we lost no classmates to the war. Those who have passed, have done so since.

So, to those graduating this year. You have a few distinctions that I would like to bring up.

1. You are the last graduating class who was born in the 1900s.
2. You are technically advanced but totally ignorant of simplistic thinking.
3. You see space and the stars as locations, we saw them as points of wonder for the imagination.
4. The nucleus family is no more.
5. Like a rock star who hasn't had a hit in two months, when I pass, no one will care beyond the next day or visit my grave... this is your future.

Today was Pomp and Circumstance. Tomorrow is reality.

Until next I ramble on...

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