Now that graduation is over, welcome to the real world

May 27 2013 - 10:01pm


In honor of high school graduation season, we present excerpts from the Standard-Examiner's Official 2013 Commencement Address:

Students, teachers, administrators, parents, distinguished guests, creepy kid on the third row who looks like he's wearing Batman pajamas under his cap and gown ...

It is with great pleasure -- and an overwhelming sense of what can only be described as sheer and utter astonishment -- that I congratulate you, the Class of 2013, on your graduation from high school. Because let's be frank: Neither your parents nor I believed for a New York minute that you were going to earn your diploma, given your propensity for poor grades, skipping class and an inability to follow even the most rudimentary instructions.

But lucky for you, our education system is hopelessly mired in mediocrity. Having already put up with the likes of you for three long years, the last thing teachers and administrators want is to see your slack-jawed face back at the high school again next year.

So, congratulations! You're finally free!

Or are you?

See, there's a reason they call this a commencement ceremony. "Commencement," my young friends, means "beginning," which is exactly what graduation is -- a beginning of your life in the real world. And I'm sure I speak for every other working stiff over the age of 18 when I say, "Ha! Welcome to our life, suckers." That's right, kids. Time to buckle down and get a soul-sucking full-time job.

Ah, yes. That's my favorite part in this whole process. Looking out on a sea of young, hopeful faces and watching the wave of realization that sweeps over them as I break the news that their 18-year-long gravy train is about to be derailed. This is why I never accept speaking fees for these graduation ceremonies. Your crushed and disillusioned spirits are reward enough.

Of course, it's not all bad news. The fact is, you really can do anything you set your mind to. Although, come to think of it, don't ask me what on earth would make me say that -- seeing as how nothing in your history of past accomplishments suggests any such potential. I mean, let's face it, the last time you "set your mind" to something, it was that third-grade science fair project. And yes, while we're all so very proud of you for your contributions to the advancement of human knowledge, a baking soda volcano or styrofoam-ball solar system is hardly the stuff of Nobel laureates.

My advice to you is that, in the final analysis, the only person you really have to worry about is the man -- or the woman -- in the mirror.

Unless you happen to be looking in a mirror at, say, an upscale department store. Because then, more than likely it's one of those two-way mirrors, and chances are good there's a security guard on the other side of the glass, watching your every move.

So you should probably return those sunglasses you pocketed back in Young Misses Apparel.

Also, it really is true that no one else can live your life for you. Well, unless of course you become a victim of identity theft. In which case not only can someone else live your life, he's probably doing a much better job of it.

And so, well done, Class of 2013. My final words of advice come from the 19th century poet Alfred Lord Tennyson, who said: "Wordsworth was a hack." But he also said: "Arise, go forth and conquer."

Oh yeah, and what say we lose the Batman pajamas?

Contact Mark Saal at 801-625-4272,, or follow him on Twitter @Saalman.

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