I’m not at all offended at not being asked to be the keynote commencement speaker for graduation this Saturday. 

It’s not like my schedule isn’t plenty busy with speaking engagements as it is, and thankfully, I have this humble forum from which to reach our youth with wisdom and guidance.

I don’t really recall who our 1972 commencement speaker was, or what was said really. I was busy cutting up with best friend Donnie Eash seated directly behind me, nudging my chair around and making duck sounds.

I’m guessing it was words like hopes and dreams and how I can be anything I want to be. Eash and I scored in the bottom third of our class, often almost taking a morbid pride in who got the lowest test scores. I guess our hopes and dreams were more short-term, directed more towards the cheerleading squad.

He’s now a machinist back home and I a disgruntled roofer who writes stuff. Had we applied ourselves academically, might one of us become president of the United States? Probably not, but could we have bettered our plight with a studious desire to excel? Maybe … ya never know I guess.

But what I’d like to say to our future scientists, architects and pimple-popping dermatologists is this: 

“Graduating seniors and even those who were held back, tomorrow you take your first steps into adulthood. May your path be clearly marked and not littered with gross things to step in. May you discover what you were meant to do and strive to become just that – whether it be something great or something not spoken openly about at future class reunions.

“The only things that really matter in this world will be your character and integrity. If you always tell the truth, are kind to children, the elderly and animals, and learn how to laugh at yourself, you’ll march through this life triumphant. But there are potential traps and pitfalls to avoid and I feel compelled to warn of a few.

“Never fall in love with money; she’s a selfish, insatiable lover that will leave you empty and seldom invited out to dinner. Do not doggedly align yourself with a political party passed down by your forefathers. Neither get all your news from Fox nor from CNN, and keep your bumper stickers to a minimum. Blind party loyalty will render you ignorantly ill-informed, sans any real credibility. Sean Hannity and Rachel Maddow are not your friends.

“The following may be clichés, but true and simple rules to live by. A gentleman always carries a spit cup. A lady never, ever spits, period! As the saying goes, ‘Nobody likes a spitter.’

“Ya know, a couple decades ago, possibly to the day, another graduate did a cartwheel off this very stage after receiving her diploma. That spunky gal was Kim Simpson-Baggs, and that’s the kind of creative expression that belies an independent spirit and voracious appetite for gusto. My young friends, do many cartwheels and backflips along your journey.

“In conclusion graduating kids, may all your dreams come true and all your fantasies, however grotesque, be realized. And may God bless the United States of America.”

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