Since we are on the subject of graduation I decided to do a twofer.
This is the story of Kaitlin’s graduation. At the time, everything had somehow or other come out perfect. After the drama of Kaity’s years in high school, we were astounded.
As far as we knew at the time of my granddaughter’s high school graduation, she had graduated on the Honor Roll. She had gotten into the college of her choice. She had a scholarship to cover her tuition and books. She’d found a job to coördinate with classes so she’d also have a little spending money, too.
After all the angst and periodic mayhem of Kaity’s high school reality show, we were thrilled.
After the month of May during which no rain fell, graduation day dawned dark, cold, and rainy. With a hint of foreboding, the family — me, Garry, Owen (dad), and Sandy (mom) — gathered in the parking lot of the new high school. It was early, so I suggested brunch. We adjourned to the breakfast joint in town and ordered the usual. Bacon. Eggs. Home fries. Toast. Coffee.
It took a long time to get the food. Every other parent and grandparent was also fortifying him or herself for the upcoming event.
Scheduled to start at one, the festivities started at exactly one, except indoors in the gym rather than outside. Without being able to use the great outdoors, the graduates, appropriately gowned and capped, marched around the gymnasium. They were smiling, giving little waves to the occasionally whooping audience.
We are not, as a family, big on whooping. We managed some enthusiastic applause, but mostly, we were taking pictures. Of course.
Garry had coerced a friend who is a videographer to shoot too, so it was an effort worthy of Cecil B. DeMille. We were ready for our close-ups.
The gym was hot, airless, and smelled like sweat.
Initial enthusiasm faded quickly as endless, dull speeches, heavily laden with every cliché ever used at such an event, commenced. And recommenced. And were repeated by the next local pol. Students with apparently no time restrictions droned on, interspersed with a band that tried hard to end at the same time.
My mother felt if they at least ended together, they were not a total failure.
The singers … well … it’s hard to justify them. Bad doesn’t cover it. An American Idol judge would have felt obliged to physically eject them from the stage. With extreme prejudice.
After they (mercifully) ended, the audience, in stunned silence, waited. Surely actually graduation would take place any minute.
Instead, the principal arose from her chair to begin the longest, dullest, most amateurish speech in the history of high school graduations. I’ve been to enough of them to recognize a really terrible speech.
Whether or not she was an equally terrible principal, I can’t say as I didn’t go to that school, but I’m betting she was. People who give speeches that dull, droning, meandering … well … how good would they be at anything else? She clearly didn’t actually know more than half the graduating seniors either. Oh shame, shame on her.
It wasn’t merely too long. Her abilities as a public speaker were profoundly lacking. Maybe she’d written the speech the night before and not read it through, counting on her (lack of) talent to carry the day. She should have skipped it entirely. It was a bad speech given by an inept speaker to an uninterested and by now, hostile audience.
She stumbled, back-pedaled, tried (desperately) to find something to say about each graduate, even when she clearly didn’t know the kid. At all.
The audience was slumping, murmuring. My back was spasming. Garry was limping. Graduates were talking lethargically amongst themselves about what they would do later … if they were ever finished with this … ceremony.
It reminded me fondly of my own high school graduation where my best friend burst into tears and couldn’t stop crying. I asked her why she was crying? It wasn’t like she enjoyed our high school. Lord knows I didn’t.
She said, “They bored us all these years and even today, they are boring us again.”
This was worse and I didn’t think it could get worse.
By the time it was over, the wind outside had picked up, the temperature had dropped into the low forties.
Party plans were abandoned due to exhaustion. It was almost four in the afternoon and no one was in a good mood except Garry, who didn’t yet know that his poisonous spider bites were infecting. That was for the next day’s festivities.
It was pouring, but at least the speakers, screechy singers, and off-key instruments were finally silent. We were allowed to creep out of the bleachers and go home. We had survived. Didn’t we at least deserve a free tee-shirt?
The college thing fell apart pretty quickly when Kaitlin realized her foot was even worse and there was no way she could stay on her feet the hours required to be a nurse. The scholarship was for a nursing program.
It didn’t transfer to anything else. There was no money for tuition and the price of a private college — or, in Massachusetts even a public one — were astronomical. They commented on the news last night that Massachusetts is 48th in the amount of money we give to higher education. Our public colleges cost more than many private ones.
So Kaitlin fell into a slump and Garry was on multiple antibiotics for a month during which time he couldn’t walk, drive or do much of anything.
Synonyms for anomaly include: abnormal, atypical, nontypical, irregular, aberrant, exceptional, freak, freakish, odd, bizarre, peculiar, unusual, out of the ordinary, inconsistent, incongruous, deviant, deviating, divergent, and eccentric. And there are more if these don’t do it for you.
It was a long, long day … and the now the entire world is a vast, bizarre anomaly. Who knew?
In 2015, we had no idea what lay ahead.