Saturday, May 13, 2006

Greetings & Salutations 2005

To the Class of 2005, I bring you greetings and salutations. I am delighted to be here today at Carl LaFong College.

I know you are disappointed that your first choice for commencement speaker declined your invitation.

But, as I'm sure you realize, other pressing personal matters prevented Michael Jackson from responding.

Another point, if I may pick a nit. Your speaker's committee may want to consider raising your fee.

I was delighted to receive the offer, but others may not find a $25 Wendy's gift certificate enough of a lure.

I never thought I'd get another invitation to speak at a graduation, due to the unfortunate incidents that followed my speech last May at the Harvey Hadley Bible College and Finishing School.

As you may have read, the police exonerated me of any role in provoking the riots and looting.

In the interest of full disclosure, I must add that the grand jury did chastise me for failing to make it clear that when I exhorted graduates to "run out and seize the world with all the gusto you can!" I was using a figure of speech.

I have thought deeply about what advice I can give that will serve you in the world beyond these ivied walls.

Ihave tried to distill my years of experience and my accumulated wisdom into a set of maxims that you can carry with you on life's journey, like a package of mini-crackers.

I have concluded that the best advice I can give you is:

First, keep your sense of humor. You are going to need it.

Second, take care of your gums. Floss daily, if possible.

If you don't, you'll find yourself facing expensive and painful surgery later in life that may include removal of some teeth.

This, in turn, will involve expensive and painful denture work.

Combined, it can run into thousands of dollars. And, trust me, your dental insurance will only cover about 30 cents on the dollar - if it covers anything at all.

My guess is, you won't even have dental insurance. It will be too expensive.

Take care of your health, too, because health-insurance costs will be out of this world.

In addition, start stashing away money today for retirement because I expect Social Security to go kaput long before you are ready to retire.

Do you want to spend your Golden Years as toothless, penniless and possibly incontinent? I think not.

So heed my words well.

May I also suggest a regimen of regular exercise, to keep up your stamina for what may turn out to be the biggest job of your life: taking care of us, your beloved parents.

We are the Baby Boomers.

We have scrimped and saved and worked like dogs to raise the money needed to care for you in the style to which you have become accustomed.

You don't think cell phones grow on trees, do you? And those iPods? They retail for $300. That cute little mini-Cooper you just had to have? It cost a mint.

As to college tuition, we're not even going to go there.

Do we want anything in return?

Of course not - except that you be happy and that you tend to us when we reach our 70s, our 80s, our 90s and even our 100s.

After all, we gave you the best years of our lives, so why not give us yours?

The good news is: We'll be close by.

With housing prices going through the roof, most of you will never be able to afford a home, so you can come live with us. We have nice, big houses.

In conclusion, dear graduates I urge you - figuratively, of course - to go forth.

Sow your wild oats. Have a ball.

We'll expect you back home in about 10 years.

We'll even give you the master bedroom.

We'll take your old room.

We don't need much. A nice stereo. Some Springsteen CDs. A big-screen TV. (Maybe cable on demand.) Hot Quaker Oats for breakfast.

And, please, take to heart my other words of wisdom:

Keep your sense of humor.You are going to need it.


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