An unfortunate side effect of participating in my high school's music program (marching band and orchestra) was required performances at three years of graduation ceremonies before I finally got to participate in one as a guest of honor. That's a lot of "The Star-Spangled Banner", but whatever, it's child's play to band geeks: we mangled that one on a regular basis at football games and pep rallies. Much more painful was playing "Pomp and Circumstance"/"Land of Hope and Glory" on seemingly endless repeat as the capped and gowned seniors trudged slowly to their seats. Every year, I learned to play the processional on a different, lighter instrument (bassoon, alto saxophone, and finally clarinet), until finally at my own commencement exercises (stupid phrase) I didn't have to carry an instrument at all. But I digress. As awful as the music may have been (and bored teenagers can make any song sound terrible) it was preferable to the graduation speeches --- with one exception. When I was a freshman, the president of that year's graduating senior class gave a nice little speech, short and sweet. It was the typical "let's go out and make our mark on the world" spiel, but it was short and sweet (did I mention that already?) Most memorably, Eli (I can't believe I remember his name) managed to work in a reference to the Joe DiMaggio line of Simon and Garfunkel's "Mrs. Robinson", to which what sounded like the entire audience reflexively chimed in, "Woo woo woo." Try to imagine the rumble of sotto voce "woo"s rendered echoingly loud by the sheer numbers muttering, a big stuffy warehouse of an auditorium full of people dressed too formally and uncomfortably for the heat and humidity of New Jersey in June. Imagine us all grinning a little sheepishly, maybe laughing a little, then quieting back down to hear the rest of the speech. At that point, Eli read this poem.
Draw a crazy picture
Write a nutty poem
Sing a mumble-gumble song
Whisper through your comb
Do a loony-goony dance
'Cross the kitchen floor—
Put something silly in the world
That ain't been there before.
—Shel Silverstein, A Light In The Attic
Thanks, Uncle Shelby, for as good a mission statement as any I've tried to write for my E2 homenode.
Updated Monday, August 16, 2004 at 4:51:28 server time