We Must Metriculate

June 23, 2000

You may have noticed that I took a few weeks off. I was actually asked to speak to the graduating class of Catalpa University, but, as I later learned, I was Number 81 on a list of 82, the first 80 being unavailable. And I made sure to tell them what wonders that did for my self-esteem when they called to tell me that Number 78 had gotten a replacement to pick up the garbage that day, and was therefore available. Rather than let it go to waste, which it would have even if I’d read it to a crowd of drooping mortarboards, I thought I’d share it with you. Here’s my speech to the graduates:

As I look out at the blank gazes of those of you who aren’t looking at your watches, I think what a great equalizer time is. Someday you and I will share a rest home, and will reminisce about what times were like before people had computer linkups installed directly in their cerebrums. We’re separated by so little, despite the fact that I’m pretty sure people are going to call you Generation Z. I’m a member of Generation X. Consider yourself lucky to be at the end of the alphabet. It will give you some distinction, unlike Generation X, which used to be known as "slackers", and is now known as corporate cannon fodder. Generation Y started up Internet companies and became fabulously wealthy. You’re not going to be fabulously wealthy. The Internet companies are either going under or sucking each other up like some deranged executive amoeba. You’re also going to be corporate cannon fodder. Your only chance for wealth is a game show, and people are already getting tired of those. I would share some words of wisdom with you, but you already know everything. Your collective knowledge is overwhelming, but don’t worry. It will decline significantly in the years to come. Therefore, I’ll share some of what you already know with your parents, who are so far removed from your myopic, corporate advertising-driven world they have no idea what’s going on.

  • Drugs are funny. I’m not advocating the use of drugs, because there’s nothing funny about a bad drug experience if you’re the one who took the drug. However, there is enormous humor value in Dave down the hall who got loaded up on LSD and spent the rest of the night thinking he was being attacked by the bathroom tiles.

  • A penny saved is worth the same as a penny thrown out the window. Even if you gather a whole pile of pennies together they’re worthless because Don, the guy at the all night grocery, won’t take a handful of pennies. Nickels are slightly more valuable, but only in quantity.

  • Regardless of where you went for Spring Break, whether it was Cancun, Tijuana, Baja, Las Vegas, Rio de Janeiro, or Boise, it was the wrong place. Attractive people having more fun than you will ever have were filmed at some other place, and the best you can do is watch it on television. But at least you can use what’s on television to make up some exciting stories about what happened to you and you can rub those in the face of your friend who spent the week volunteering at homeless shelters in Bolivia. On second thought, don’t — he or she will be your boss someday because "Once did 27 Jello-shots while dancing naked" doesn’t look good on a resume.

  • Don’t criticize people who relinquish their principles for money. Face it: you’d do the same thing.

  • Stay close to those friends who took care of you that night you drank an entire bottle of whatever it was — assuming you can remember. Someday they might work for you, and people with that kind of loyalty will make your job easy.

  • Finally, keep your sense of humor. You’ll need it when you get fired.

That’s it. So long, farewell, live long and prosper, don’t take any wooden nickels, don’t take any pennies whatsoever but leave them in the plastic thing next to the cash register, and where’s my check?

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