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No pomp or circumstance? Don’t forget to party anyway

By Lara Loewenstein

June 10, 2007 10:31 p.m.

This is it. It’s time to graduate.

We now sit back and congratulate ourselves on our hard work over the years and party hard one more time in tribute to all the times we’ve partied before.

But more importantly, we will dress in caps and gowns, walk the walk to “Pomp and Circumstance,” and stand still long enough so our family can take too many pictures and shower us with hugs and kisses.

Cliche, I know. But that’s what this is about, right?

Not only is commencement a ceremony to properly close our college careers, but also for our parents to feel proud of us. And furthermore, for them to discard the final hope that we’ll remain children forever or that we’re going to move back home ““ it’s a way for them to finally throw us out into the world.

Yup, commencement is great for those who like ceremonies, but honestly, I’m not that type.

I can congratulate myself just as well with the best bottle of wine I can get for the price of the cap, robe and tickets rather than with a graduation ceremony. After all, without the parents this ceremony doesn’t mean as much ““ luckily my parents care just as little for “Pomp and Circumstance” and are not coming to L.A. And we already know what’s going to happen.

It will begin with music and a procession: students, then alumni, with the faculty in the rear. I’m only slightly disappointed I won’t see faculty in full academic regalia. Meaning: the ones who were willing, or forced, to spend $650 on the entire outfit.

Once we’re seated, a regent, or some other person whose name I’ve never heard in the high echelons of the governance of the university, will welcome the graduates and the parents. It’s OK if you’ve never heard his or her name either. If they’re that important, there just might be a short biography at the back of the program.

He or she will then welcome someone lower in the hierarchy of command to further the introductions of the ceremonies. The introduction of this person will take just as long as the first welcome speech.

That person will continue with further welcomes, and then introduce the next person.

And the entire process will be repeated again. And again.

Honorary degrees will be explained and conferred. This will take three more introductions.

And then the big one ““ Kareem Abdul-Jabbar will give the commencement address.

And considering how many personal records this guy still holds at UCLA, I can guarantee that he will get more applause than the actual graduates.

He’ll begin: “Ladies and gentlemen of the class of 2007 …”

“You should be proud of your achievements, the world is waiting for you, etc.”

Insert bad joke here.

Continue with motivating words. Some good solid advice such as “unless you think Social Security is going to last that long, save for your retirement.”

Then he’ll mention something about doing whatever makes you happy.

Insert basketball anecdote here.

He’ll continue with: “Live in the moment. Don’t get stuck in the muck of everyday decisions. There’ll be more important ones that you never saw coming.”

Insert anecdote related to seizing the moment or enjoying the beauty of life. It might involve watching a sunset.

Then he’ll mention something about how nobody on their deathbed regrets not having spent more time at work as opposed to with family and friends ““ the message being: Don’t work too hard but spend time with friends.

He’ll conclude: “Follow your dreams. And you have the power to achieve those dreams.” Or some other equally motivating and tear-jerking closing sentence.

Claps, cheers and tears.

He will leave the stage. And we’ll move on to the conferral of degrees, at least symbolically. We’ll receive the actual diplomas later, and personally, I’m going to boast for the rest of my life that I have Arnold Schwarzenegger’s signature on my college diploma.

Closing remarks (hopefully by someone who gave one of the welcomes, otherwise there would be another introduction).

And finally, a dismissal.

The hats will be thrown in the air.

I’m proud of my achievements. We all should be, and our parents should be too. In fact, all the above advice should be taken to heart and will probably be sufficiently delivered by Kareem.

But I think I’m going to stick to celebrating with that bottle of wine.

E-mail Loewenstein at [email protected] Send general comments to [email protected]

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Lara Loewenstein
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