Wednesday, May 26, 1999 9:12 PM

I was asked to return home and give the commencement speech at the college I attended, and thought I would share it with you, my loving readers.

OK, I wasn’t invited to do much of anything except to perform rude and probably impossible acts with myself and contribute money, but if you don’t buy the premice, you won’t buy the bit. It’s a comedy law.

Oh, just read the speech.


When I was asked to give the commencement address here at this college, I was excited. I have pictures of things that would have been very fond memories of this place, and the diploma I have shoved in a drawer of my desk proves that I left here without being taken out by the police. I read the curriculum, and was shocked to find that this isn’t a real university at all. Sure, your various departments disguise that by saying this is a college, but in actuality, you are attending a glorified high school with a bigger rec. room and no gym. With the money you paid me for this speech, I could afford to take a Freshman Comp class, however, but I decided to get a Grande Meal at Taco Bell instead. So, I will be waiting for donations when I hand you your diploma, or I will be making sure to kneecap those who are cheap rat-bastards as I hand out the sheepskins.

Let me be the last to tell you congratulations! You have spent more money in four years than you will make at your job for the same about of time. You have learned about how to put together a thesis, report on the history of pinball in the United States, program on computer languages that haven’t been used by a single business for 15 years, the chemical composition of cow farts, when in a rats brain to drill so that you can make them no longer feel hunger, and show up for early classes after drinking until 3:30 A.M. and waking up three hours later with a person you don’t remember. Just so you know, the part about being able to show up on time after heavy drinking is the only thing you will be able to carry with you into the real world.

There are a number of ways that I could give this speech. The first is to give a standard graduation speech, like the one I attended when I graduated college. It was given by John Chancellor of NBC news, and all I really remember about it was that I wondered where I would be when he died. I’m sure many of you are thinking the same thing, and let me tell you, if you’re anything like me, you’ll be straightening the porno mags on a shelf while a guy in a three piece suit asks you where the latest issue of "Juggs" is. You will then spend the rest of the day in the bathroom, weeping openly, bemoaning the fact that you’re wasting your life and all you have to show for it is a 25% discount on adult films. Not that that’s not an important thing.

The second was to give a speech like the bogus one circulated via e-mail that has been made into a hit song, with a lot of cute, quirky advice about knees and sunscreen. I started writing that speech, and all I could come up with were fifteen ways to cure a hangover, and if you haven’t learned that by now, you’ve truly wasted your college years. That and I can’t come up with that many cute quirky things to say.

OK, I can’t come up with any cute, quirky things. If you want that speech, go buy the CD and leave me the hell alone with my gambling, cynical detachment and pornography. It’s all that cheers me when it’s cold and I’m alone.

Instead, I am going to do what I want to do. Why? None of you will remember this speech anyway. You’re either hammered, going to be hammered, or in desperate need of getting hammered. Most of you have already forgotten how to read, so to tell you that I am one of the century’s most influential writers and most prominent progressive thinker of my generation is a waste of my time and yours. Suffice it to say that you are damn lucky to see me, and I will not pass this way again. I may pass out, however, and if I do, my lovely assistant, the winner of the Most Likely To Enter Rehab award for your student body will complete the speech. What do I want to do? Other than attend a decent college party with hard liquor and nubile young co-eds who are easily impressed, of course. I wish to give you a stark warning. Since you won’t listen or heed my advice, I am secure in the knowledge that I will be able to call each and every one of you in ten years in the middle of the night, waking you with the four most beautiful words in the English language:

I Told You So.

This is the end of the high points of your life. From here, it is all downhill. Remember how your father would trudge upstairs to bed, or shamble out to his car in the morning? You’ll be doing that within a few months. You will interview for jobs, jump through whatever hoops they ask you to, and then when you are told that you have the job, you’ll be elated. Treasure that feeling because it will fade quickly. You are about to become a hamster on a wheel, and you’ll always be haunted with the knowledge that you went out of your way to find that wheel. If you get the urge to pack it in and get a different job, the feeling of mind-numbing despair will go away for about a month until the new job begins to crush your dreams. Either get used to it, or change jobs as rapidly as I go through bottles of single malt scotch whiskey.

You leave this college wanting to find a career where you can change the world. The world doesn’t want to change. It likes things the way they are.

Your company doesn’t want to change the world, they just want to own it. Your co-workers will look at you with pity and contempt if you allow yourself to have that feeling for more than a couple of months, and they’ll start hiding your office supplies if you keep showing up in the morning looking happy.

Save time, sell your soul early. Give up on your dreams now, because they will be crushed like a box of Fruity Pebbles under a steamroller in time.

Beat the world to the punch and give up now.

As for your home life, many of you are in soul crushing relationships with soul crushing future ex-spouses. You know that laugh he or she has that is a little off, and is slightly endearing? In five years , it will have the power to decalcify your spine and cause you to reach for the sleeping pills and bottle of Everclear. All the dreams you had as a couple will have degenerated to mowing your lawn on Saturday nights and fighting over which color mini-van to buy. Enjoy. Isn’t love glorious?

I won’t even discuss children, since many of you are thinking about having them. Fools. The only reason to have children is to have someone to drain your wallet and your will to live. Odds are that you will love them, nurture them, care for them, and they will resent you, steal money from your sock drawer and wreck your car.

So, what do I, the one single success story that has come from this wretched institution feel it important to tell you? What do I think is the only advice you should take with you as you leave college? Enroll in graduate school and never leave. Stay here as long as you can. The real world is firmly committed to sucking, and you should do everything in your power to leave.

Otherwise, prepare to have the very will to live drained from you at the same rate you put on weight. If you must leave, discover mind altering substances and make them your closest friends. Thank you and good afternoon.

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