Grad Tidings

The reason you couldn’t drive anywhere yesterday is that BYU held its commencement exercises and everyone in Utah County drove to the Marriott Center. (You will notice they did this without using their turn signals.) More graduation stuff happens today, because we Mormons figure there’s no reason to have only one meeting when you can have two.

(Note to self: Remove that last joke before this column goes to print, unless you’re positive no one will remember you made the same one last year.)

Today’s ceremonies are for the individual colleges, with messages tailored to each department’s graduates. How do the speeches differ from one department to the next? Here are some excerpts.

“When I look into this sea of faces about to leave this university forever, I am reminded of how the Romans must have felt when the Vandals sacked them in A.D. 455: disappointed, sure, but we can always rebuild. And just as George Washington’s surrender of Fort Necessity to the French in 1754 meant losing a battle while eventually winning a war, I am sure our ongoing efforts to cram useless data into students’ heads will ultimately prove fruitful. Remember, those who don’t pass their history classes are doomed to repeat them. (Silence from audience.) On Sept. 8, 2002. (Cheering and applause.)”

“You spent the past four years learning how to design clothes. And guess what? Right now you’re all wearing the same thing. Welcome to the bitter irony of life.”

“Though your work at The Daily Universe may have taught you otherwise, journalism is more than quoting only one source, and misquoting him, for your semi-annual three-part series on eating disorders. It is more than writing obvious headlines such as ‘Internet Popular Among Students.’ It is more than misspelling the names of well-known religious leaders. In the real world, journalism also means swearing a lot and criticizing Republicans.”

“So you went on a Spanish-speaking LDS mission … and then decided you should MAJOR in Spanish? What did you minor in, tracting? I spent two years in the Army before college, but I didn’t come home and get a degree in camouflage. So you can speak Spanish really fluently now. Well, olé for you. Good luck finding a job.”

“Thank you for coming to this innovative and exciting graduation ceremony. ‘It will be an event to remember,’ proclaims Department Chair Takki Gusher. ‘Such innovation and excitement will surely be enjoyed by all.'”

“I am sorry this ceremony was scheduled to be held in the library, which apparently confused those of you who had never entered the building before. But we — wait, is this even a major? ‘Recreation Management and Youth Leadership’? What do you do? Organize Little League teams? This must be a prank. Am I on ‘Candid Camera’…?”

“We apologize that our keynote speaker has not arrived yet. He was on a train that left Chicago at 6 a.m., heading west at 150 miles per hour, while another train left San Francisco at the same time, heading east at 100 miles per hour, so … well, you do the math. (Graduates do the math.) You see our dilemma.”

I decided to do this column BEFORE I re-read the previous year's and realized how much I didn't like the way it turned out. The jokes in the sequel mostly take a different tack. Where the first one primarily made fun of the people who major in various things, this one generally just uses the different majors to show how different people might say basically the same thing. The main exception there is the series of slams against The Daily Universe, which are both mean and accurate. (The thing about "Internet Popular Among Students" refers to the time Mother Teresa's death went on page 14, while a fluff story about the Internet got page 1; see the comments after this column for more on that.)

I remembered the part about Fort Necessity because of the "Simpsons" episode entitled "Bart Gets an F." In it, Bart studies his brains out and still fails his history test, thus requiring him to repeat fourth grade. Heartbroken and frustrated, he blurts out that he feels the way George Washington must have felt when he surrendered Fort Necessity to the French in 1754. His teacher, seeing that he has applied his knowledge to real life, gives him some extra credit and he passes after all. And I remembered it, which means "The Simpsons" is educational.

I don't know if the joke at the end of the History paragraph works. What I'm going for is that history majors don't care about anything unless there's a date attached to it, i.e., that learning history is nothing more than learning a series of dates. Hence, no one cares until the guy names a particular date on which they will have to repeat their classes, and then they understand. See? It's really funny now that I explain it.

For the record, in the paragraph about Clothing and Textiles majors, I think it would have been funnier if it had read: "... all wearing the same damn thing." Pretty much any profanity would have worked. Swearing is usually superfluous, but sometimes it really does make things funnier. We didn't say "damn" in the paper back then, though, at least not unless it was really, really necessary.