For longer than I care to remember I’ve had an odd fascination for graduation speeches. It probably has something to do with the fact that they combine two of my favorite subjects: public speaking (I’ve been told I’m very good), and advice giving ( I like to believe I’m very good). Plus it’s totally the easiest speech you can give, just a little fluff about how the kids are amazing and they’ll do great things yadda yadda yadda, throw in a little BS advice and a good anecdote and everyone and their mother is congratulating you on an amazing speech.
(skip the first minute)
(That’s one hard act to follow)
Sadly though I never got to give any speeches. I came close in middle school but the speech I submitted wasn’t picked. I guess the judges didn’t appreciate entire Van Morrison song I quoted (it was a good one too). In high school I wasn’t quite smart enough to be valedictorian (although we don’t really have valedictorians, it’s complicated). And I wasn’t going to push my way onto the stage just so I could give a speech, unlike one person I know. I could foreseeable give one in the future, but I’m far too fresh out of school and not nearly famous or noteworthy enough to give one anytime soon so that’s a bust.
Although it’s not all bad. As much as I love the idea if giving a graduation speech, I hate graduation speeches, or I should say most graduation speeches. Sure every once and a while you get a Steve jobs or Barak Obama, but for every Steve Jobs you have 900 dumbasses whose speech boils down to: “oh my god, High School, how’d you do it?” God help me if I hear on more person use the line, “as I look out i see future lawyers and doctors” I will smack a bitch. I get that you want to pander to the parents who are (justifiably) excited to see their kid graduate, but come on, do something new for a change. Most graduation speeches are so cliche you may as well just play vitamin C’s “Graduation (friends forever) for 3 hours, at least vitamin C is nutritious.
But worst of all is when they break out the Dr Seuss. Now I’ve been to my fair share of graduations, having 2 over-achieving siblings I’ve seen many a speech good and bad. I can not tell you how many times I’ve heard the deplorable phrase, “I’d like to begin with a reading from Dr Seuss’s Oh the Places You’ll Go” GAAAAHHHH! No! I applaud the charming attempt to remind the now aged audience of the childhood from whence they came, but come on!!!! Oh The Places You’ll go is easily One of Dr Seuss’s worst books. It’s overbearing and heavy handed. The reason I hate it is the reason everyone reads it. It is every graduation speech ever boiled down into a few pages with pretty pictures and rhyming verse. If you’re going to use Dr. Seuss there are plenty of better (and less cliché) options.
You have Green Eggs and Ham, a tale of tolerance and open-mindedness. There’s Horton Hear’s a Who jubilantly declaring, “A person’s a person, no matter how small!” (not to mention the Pale Blue Dot stuff sprinkled throughout). Don’t forget the Lorax, his story of environmentalism. Of course there’s To Think That I Saw it on Mulberry Street (power of imagination), and Hop on Pop (uh…hopping on pop?). And of course everyone’s favorite The Cat in the Hat. And so to the graduating class of 2014, I say to you this, if a large anthropomorphic cat ever enters you home unannounced, things may get a little crazy, but it will all be fine in the end. Now go watch Vitamin C on infinite repeat!