Pimpin’ My Circumstance
So anybody who’s got a bunch of graduates who need speaking to—be they of University; College; High, Tech, Trade or Matchbook School; Middle School; Academy Charter Institute of Some Learning for Young People; Grade School; Prison Substance-Abuse Good-Neighbor Sanity Program for Early Release; Pre-School; Nursery School; Daycare Center Who Employs a Bus Driver Who Can Conduct a Head-Count—I’m your gasbag. You pony up fifty bucks with a case of ice-cold bottled beer, and I’ll be there, I kid you not.
And even if you already got a mouthpiece for your ceremonial shindig, perhaps you could send fifty bucks my way anyways as a gratuity for my generous offer to you. What with the fabulously administered healthcare system we have in this country, I’ve got medical bills up the jock and back and could abso-focking-lutely put to bureaucratic use the donation of a Franklin or three. Thank you for listening.
So, what would I say to your students about to fly your scholastic coop?
Well sir, I always enjoy to kick-off my speechifying remarks with a humorous anecdote, maybe something that goes like this:
Little Timmy was on his way to visit his grandmother. Seated next to him on the plane was an adult stranger who turned to Little Timmy and said, “Let's talk. I've heard that flights pass by more quickly if you strike up a conversation with your fellow passenger.” And little Timmy, who had just opened one of the books in the series of A Series of Unfortunate Events, closed it slowly, and said to the stranger, “What would you like to talk about?”
“How about nuclear power?” the stranger said. And little Timmy said, “OK, that could be an interesting topic. But let me ask you a question first. A horse, a cow and a deer all eat grass. The same stuff, yet a deer excretes little pellets, while a cow turns out a flat patty, and a horse produces clumps of dried grass. Why do you suppose that is?”
“How about that,” the stranger said, “I have no idea.”
“Well, then,” little Timmy said, “how is it that you feel qualified to discuss nuclear power when you don't know shit?” Ba-ding!
And then I might say: In my effort to whip something together for you’s to listen to today, I reflected upon what I wished someone had said to me when I was your age. And what I wished is that someone would had told me that a long lost, distant relative had croaked and left me a hundred million bucks, that’s what. Sadly, I never got that message and I’ll bet a buck two-eighty that none of you ever did either, ’cause otherwise why would you be sitting here today listening to me? If you had a hundred million bucks, hey, screw school, ain’a?
Then, I might refer back to the Little Timmy story and say: Sure, you might be walking out of here with some kind of diploma but you don’t know shit, and if you’re smart you’ll want to remind yourself of that each and every day. The smartest thing one of the smartest guys I ever read about said more than 2,000 years ago, “I know nothing except the fact of my ignorance.” And that’s really all you need to know. Yes, you may learn a lot outside these institutional walls but as long as you know that you don’t know shit, you ought to pass on through the big, wide world with honors just fine.
And if I haven’t yet been removed from the stage by campus security, I might conclude with this: Yeah yeah, today is just one big pomp punchbowl but the real picture of the circumstances is this: You go to school it seems like forever, you get out and work at jobs you hate seems like forever the rest of your life, then finally you get to retire but now you’re too old and too poor to do anything and then you die, which is forever.
But on the bright side, I ought to tell you that as you disembark out of this institution of some kind of learning so as to embark upon who-in-the-hell-ever-really-does-know, I’ve always found it wise to regard what we call “life” as one big butt-kicking banquet; and although unfortunately the only thing served at this banquet is crap casserole, I do believe that one can learn to develop a taste for it. Bon appétit and bon voyage ’cause I’m Art Kumbalek and I told you so.