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Graduation Platitudes

Graduation Platitudes

A version of this column appeared in The Virginian-Pilot on May 15, 2013.


Another May. Another graduation season. Another year without an invite to be a commencement speaker.

Yup, another column telling you what I would have said.

It's no surprise that the eggheads at places like the University of Virginia and the College of William and Mary wouldn't want a Slacker University grad on their sacred stages. But every other institution of higher - and lower - learning also shunned me.

Including the dog obedience schools and nail tech academies.

That's OK. I can still deliver an address. Right here. And not another of those "the future is yours, reach for the stars" bloviations that graduates will sleep through.

My message? Something practical. Like this:

Greetings, graduates. It's me, Kerry. Here to give you hope.

What you see before you is living proof that C students really can land paying jobs and earn enough to eventually move out of the parental homestead.

Feel better? I thought so.

All you have to do is work hard. And if the boss asks you to move his car in a snowstorm, say yes. Even if it isn't in your job description. Even if you're afraid to drive in winter weather. Even if his car is worth more than you make in a year.

Hey, it worked for me. That's how I got my first promotion.

Let's talk about your parents. Take a gander at those two. In 30 years or so, that will be you. And those three decades? They'll go by faster than you can ever imagine.

I'm guessing that when your own kids graduate from high school or college you'd like to attend their commencement exercises as a proud biped, not someone tethered to an oxygen tank and rolling in on a motorized scooter.

So here's a tip: Don't smoke.

Seriously, nothing will rob you of your money, your white teeth, your smooth skin, your lungs, your mobility and your life faster than cigarettes.

Speaking of vices, pace yourself when it comes to booze. You're young. You don't have problems so big they need to be drowned in liquor. Those come much later. Learn to be a responsible social drinker. They're so much more fun to be around than drunks.

Pick your role models carefully. None should be named Kardashian.

Leave your cellphone home occasionally. Experience the world in real-time.

Just once, have fun and don't post pictures of yourself doing it on Facebook.

Get a dog. You'll never have a better friend. Train it, too. Otherwise, you could find yourself with a mutt that wears Maxipads in the house. Don't ask how I know.

Beware of job offers and marriage proposals made in bars.

Watch for deer when you drive at night in Virginia. Those evil animals would like nothing more than to lodge a hoof in your windshield and an antler in your arm.

Get moving. Don't wait till you have your first heart attack to exercise. Your bodies are playing cruel tricks on you now. You think you can ingest greasy garbage and still look good. That will not last.

You'll go to bed one night looking like Channing Tatum and wake up looking like Zach Galifianakis.

Read the newspaper. You'll impress everyone with your knowledge of current events.

More importantly, you'll keep my former colleagues in a job.

Speaking of jobs, one last thing. Don't get a tattoo that's visible when you're clothed.

Unless it reads: "Don't Hire Me."

That's it. The future is yours. Get out there and reach for the stars.

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