Saturday, April 7, 2012

Gradations of graduation

Our syllabus came to an abrupt end following the last week of class. After that, we had two exams and an assignment due. Beyond that point ... there be graduation -- at some unspecified date.

Graduation. The goal of the Magnificent Seven ever since day one of MUPP. We had finished our last Contracts class with Contracts Guy. We'd met once more with our Skills Goddess to get final feedback on our client folders. A few of us went to "Paralegal a Go-Go," a continuing education event that merits its own chapter in this story. We jumped out of the online exam windows and endured free-fall until our grades were posted. And still the question we asked each other, in person and in emails, was, "Have you heard anything about graduation?"

Our Skills Goddess did her best to get the Powers That Be at MUPP to give us a graduation date. An approximate date. A hint at an approximate date. It took awhile, but we finally got one. It would be a luncheon in our collective honor, with our instructors and the program administrators. Then it was a dinner. A date was set. And then there was a surprise: No guests.

Here's the email I sent to the other 6/7ths of the class:

Hi guys.  
Was your reaction to X's email about no guests allowed at graduation "Say WHAT??!!?" (or your generational equivalent)?  Mine was. 
I realize that it's probably meant as a cost-reducing measure. But isn't it the point of graduation events to let graduates AND their families, significant others, friends, etc. celebrate their accomplishments?  
I myself would rather have our peeps in attendance than get a free meal. What do you all think?

The answers were primarily agreement. My favorite response was from LawBaby, who expressed his general ambivalence toward graduations per se, (having just had one), but added, "I always love a good riot ... I'm with ya." He also mentioned something about lobbing a television through a shop window or two.  (I knew I liked that kid.) Skills Goddess once again went to bat for us, and the next thing we knew, all of our loved ones were cordially invited to celebrate with us. Yay!

Family members - other than Spousie - being in short supply, I decided to invite the two un-indicted co-conspirators who got me into this mess - Cagney and Lacy - to join us at the party. Unfortunately, Cagney was out of the country and could not attend. (Rumors of cucumber smuggling and midnight flights to Manila are all patently untrue. Well, the parts about cucumbers and midnight, anyway.) Lacy was available. Not only did she drive me to the fancy-schmancy hotel, but she soothed my frazzled nerves, convinced me I didn't look like crap in my suit, and even drove a couple of laps around Downtown to kill time when we managed to arrive forty-five minutes early.

Frazzled nerves? You betcha. I had been named Valedictorian - a death sentence honor I snagged by a mere 1.3 grade points. Had I only missed two questions on the sundry exams I'd taken, I wouldn't have to Give A Speech. I don't Speak. At all. I have turned down job interviews on being told I'd need to "give a little presentation to the staff." I dropped out of an improv class that I was really enjoying when I realized they weren't kidding about us giving a show at the end of the eight weeks. To mangle Paul Stookey's lyrics, whenever three or more of you are gathered, there is no way in hell I'm going to be addressing said gathering. So I put my little valedictory brain to work. I had a feeling there was one among us who would want to Tell Her Story at graduation. I was right. She did. Her parents were thrilled. And I was off the hook. Bless you, Felonious Floozie; I owe you one.

You may be wondering what one gets - other than the opportunity to avoid giving a speech - if one is a Valedictorian. I thought it would be a plaque, or a trophy, or a nice little silver bowl suitable for using as a candy dish for my desk when I got that High Paying Job in the Exciting Field of Paralegal Work. Nope. I got a belt. An "Academic Champion" belt. Imagine a boxing or wrestling championship belt, shrunk down to half size, and decorated with scrolls and mortar boards and such. The valet who returned Spousie's car post-graduation asked me how many rounds I went to win it. (You can't make this stuff up...) It's too small to wear (unless I decide to get into extreme corseting or somesuch nonsense), but its acrylic display box is wider than my fireplace mantel, which makes display a little problematical. I was hoping it was one of those awards that your name is engraved on, and you keep it a year, and then you pass it on to the next lucky winner. Like the Stanley Cup. Nope. It's mine for keeps.

1 comment:

  1. LOL, I can't help but imagine a guy wearing a tie with boxing-championshipbelt-like on a stage and giving a speech. Haha. Congrats though and goodluck on your future endeavor!