Youmans (pronounced like 'yeoman' with an 's' added) is the best-kept secret among contemporary American writers.--John Wilson, editor, Books and Culture.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Things That Should Not Happen

Here are some handy guidelines for the nearest committee about to committ the error of a Middle School graduation ceremony.

1. Principals should not--never, no time, no how--be allowed to choose a poem to read at a graduation ceremony, particularly if they once served in the classroom not as English teachers but as P. E. teachers.

2. If Principals do get away with choosing a p-o-e-m by some awful happenstance, particularly chuckly little poems by Anonymous, they should not be allowed to read it to our Youth.

3. Principals should not invite their friends who manage local sports centers to speak to said Youth.

4. Principals should not invite people who will talk too much about themselves. Overheard conversation between two locals: “Why’d they ask X to speak? He just talked about himself!” Reply: “That’s all he ever talks about!”

5. People who cannot write their way out of the Proverbial Paper Bag should be muzzled shortly after approaching the podium. It is impossible to stifle too many of these guileless souls who clutch the podium with unwonted, beamful enthusiasm and burble forth to our Youth, and to us, who have neither the Youth nor the stamina nor the helpful swaths of innocence to help us endure.

6. Let’s all vote for a bit less of this freedom-of-speech stuff at the podium, a small but dangerous place, clearly booby-trapped.

7. Phrases that fill the minds of young people and their unfortunate families and friends with a subtle ache and a dense white batting, somewhat approaching the nature of cotton candy, should not be allowed.

8. Phrases that, with a little polishing, would feel comfy and meet and right in the mouth of Polonius (the guy standing there behind the arras, with the blood and so on) should not be suffered to live.

9. Anything that smacks of "The Lion King" must be booted toward the moon with cruel boots tipped with steel and hobnails galore. No more of this circle of life crap!

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I could add a picture of graduating 8th-graders, looking remarkably adult. I could add a peaceful picture of a classroom after hours. I could add a picture of a big yellow bus on monster wheels. All this I could do, if only Blogger would be sweet and not so recalcitrant about the posting of pictures! Later, maybe. Update: Later, afraid not. More suggestions for graduation frolics in the Comments...

6 comments:

  1. I wonder if it would be too traumatic for the youngsters if one did have the Principal and the speakers behind a nice thick curtain...and then, a real enactment of the stabbing..
    Well, yeah, I guess that wouldn't do. My eldest is helping with the preparations for a big highschool reunion for the local school (it would be his 10th reunion, except..he was homeschooled). He is trying to move the process towards literate and lively presentations and encounters, and is very amused at how many people remember their highschool years in his company (repeat, never set foot there).

    At graduations maybe the audience could be supplied with pingpong balls for throwing..?
    A night of bad, bad thoughts. Too many board meetings lately. Sours the poetic mind.

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  2. That thought did run through my mind--the placing of the Principal and speakers behind an arras... But clearly I am behind you in bloody-mindedness and attendance at board meetings, because I had not thought so far as a dagger.

    Throwing things has been out for a long time (except at British soccer games and other civilized places) but is definitely satisfying, especially for those with a good throwing arm. And pingpong balls are cheerful--an inspired addition to the list!

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  3. Okay,

    I have suffered through both sides of this daunting process. Both as a parent and a teacher. Belive me neither way is pretty. Maybe writing some guidelines for standing in front of a podium and speaking would be the best.

    Also tomatoes have come to mind a few times in my school career. Just a thought.

    I will be off for about two weeks, as my computer has taken ill. I am writing this at the library. Will e-mail or write then.

    Love,
    Donna

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  4. The tomato fits well in the hand. A traditional use of the rotten vegetable...

    Blogger is misbehaving, and not just in the graphics upload. I have had comments in my box that were not here, bizarre notices, and other quirky issues that suggest invasion by gremlins. But thanks for coming by, all and sundry, known and unknown.

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  5. Well, I was elected Class Poet in junior high and I had to compose and read my masterpiece at the ceremony. So, hold your tomatoes, honeys, it could have been worse.

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  6. Awww... That's sweet. And here I've never been elected anything but Pot Boy. Maybe I should set myself up as Po(e)t Boy. Some of my recipes are masterpieces, if I do say so myself.

    Still got a copy?

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Alas, I must once again remind large numbers of Chinese salesmen and other worldwide peddlers that if they fall into the Gulf of Spam, they will be eaten by roaming Balrogs. The rest of you, lovers of grace, poetry, and horses (nod to Yeats--you do not have to be fond of horses), feel free to leave fascinating missives and curious arguments.