The Official 2004 BST Commencement Speech

(Originally ran on April 19th, 2004)

When I got my bachelor's at the U, they asked me to submit a commencement speech. I turned in a brilliant manifesto that I figured would rank somewhere between the Declaration of Independence and the lyrics to "American Pie" in historical importance.

They turned it down. Probably because my speech pointed out that the U was founded by Brigham Young.

USU didn't even ask me for a submission, but lucky for you, I have my own personal soapbox. Here, then, is the "Official 2004 BST Commencement Speech:"

In the fourth grade I wanted to be a lawyer. In fifth grade I decided to be a starship captain instead. By the sixth grade I realized that my true destiny was to play safety for the Oakland Raiders. My earning potential was in a free fall. (See accompanying graphic).

I was supposed to have three Super Bowl rings by now. Instead I'm ten days from my second degree. It's been twenty months since I first stood before a class of composition students and wondered if they could tell I had no clue what I was doing. Twenty months since I first graced the pages of this newspaper. Twenty months since I emerged from the urban ghettos of Bountiful, Utah to come to Cache Valley in search of my chunk of the American Dream.

If you'd told me back at Tolman Elementary that by the time I had outlived Jimi Hendrix I would be a balding English teacher in Logan, Utah, well, I probably would have asked you who Jimi Hendrix was. Then I'd have called you a wiener and asked if you had any first series Garbage Pail Kids.*

There comes a time in one's life when one must take account of oneself and accept the path one has taken. If one is successful, one can be happy. If one can't, one will have a miserable life. If one discovers that one is in fact two, both of them will have to begin therapy.

Richard Nixon once said he "had never expected that the China initiative would come to fruition in the form of a Ping-Pong team." I'll bet he didn't expect that little Watergate thing, either.

The point is success sometimes comes in unexpected forms. We all wish we could be hovercraft pilots, but the truth is that some of us are better suited for professional wrestling. When we're young, we dream our dreams, and pray they don't involve accounting. But even if we can't fulfill all our aspirations, we can still ensure long-term success wherever our road takes us. Here, then, is the "Ambisexterous BST Guide to Long-Term Happiness:"

Admit Your Mistakes: Three weeks ago I falsely claimed that Billy Ray Cyrus performed "Boot Scoot Boogie." It was actually performed by Janet Jackson.

Embrace Rod Stewart: If taken literally, one could wind up with a restraining order. If taken metaphorically, classics like "Maggie May" and "Love Touch" will whisk you away daily to a higher nirvana.

Write appreciative e-mails to your favorite Statesman columnist: Of course it's shameless self-promotion. That's the point. If I had e-mails to respond to, I wouldn't have to sit around thinking up words like "ambisexterous."

Go Back to School: Look at monster.com. The economy sucks. Do you really want to be an investment banker in Mobile, Alabama? Why not get more education and learn lots of impressive words that explain why the economy sucks?

Be Innovative: Looking for a niche? Sports like tennis and golf need hecklers.

Be Politically Active: Voting can be fun. My dad regularly votes against all incumbent judges. Make a game of it. Vote for everyone named "Glen" or "Randy." Just remember: fascists vote, too. So do your duty.

Memorize Cool Quotes: In times of miserable failure, rationalize with fun quotes. Here then, is the "Official BST List of Most Uplifting Quotations:"

From Patrick Henry: "If this be treason, then let us make the most of it."

From Thomas Edison: "Show me a thoroughly satisfied man and I will show you a failure."

From Groucho Marx: "The secret of life is honesty and fair dealing. If you can fake that, you've got it made."

From Sigmund Freud: "We are never so defenseless against suffering as when we love."

From Mao Zedong: "Once all struggle is grasped, miracles are possible."

From Woody Allen: "I don't want to achieve immortality through my work. I want to achieve it through not dying."

2004 graduates, lift up your heads. It is time to bravely face the world. Your time has come, and you will succeed.

For those of you who aren't graduating, put on a smile. Reality is still at least a semester away.

"Good night, sweet prince, and flights of angels sing thee to thy rest!"

 

*I still own #1A, "Nasty Nick."

 

 

Joshua Terry was a graduate student in the American Studies program. Contact him at jterry@english.usu.edu, or track his movements at www.planetvenison.com.