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Delegate Every Mountain

Commencement Speech to Class of 2005 at [deleted to avoid embarrassing reputable institution]:

I am delighted to be back here at my high school alma mater, because I had fantastic times here, and because I can shamelessly recycle this speech for use as a column later, allowing me to loll around in the Florida surf while my editor back in Washington remains imprisoned in her sad little office.

    When I was a student here in the mid-1970s, everyone was either a hippie or some kind of alternative, mutant version of a hippie. Everyone felt that going to class was optional, that perhaps it might be better to wander down to the creek and become one with nature. And I'm just talking now about the teachers.

    The students did not tend to be what you would call "scholars." Back in those days, we didn't have AP courses, or even, so far as I can remember, tests. I'm not even sure we had grades, as that might have interfered with the creation of a beautiful, egalitarian society. I seem to recall that when we got a term paper back, instead of a grade it would just say, at the top, "Groovy."

Some of us spent an inordinate amount of time in the school parking lot. You have to understand that in those days we didn't have the Internet, or computer games, or cell phones [continue with ritualized old fogey lament about lack of technology during Dark Ages, as students start yawning], and for the most part we didn't have any spending money [pause as students gasp]. But we did have a parking lot. The really cool people even had cars. The rest of us just sat on the curb.

The people with cars would sometimes drive us around town, and we would ask ourselves the same questions, over and over: Where should we go? What should we do? We had no place to go. We had nothing to do. There was always a rumor of a party out by the country club. The rumor was always false. Eventually someone would say, "Let's go back to the parking lot." And we would go to the parking lot, and hang out, and it was almost like having a life....


By Joel Achenbach  |  June 20, 2005; 11:42 AM ET
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Your vision of the early 70s sounds like H-B Woodlawn in Arlington today. See the homepage.

Posted by: Jim Sweetman | June 20, 2005 12:31 PM | Report abuse

I wonder what they are going to remember about your speech. Calculating your age or the hippies?

Posted by: fdg31 | June 20, 2005 1:37 PM | Report abuse

You were evasive about which one of G'ville's institutions of mid-level learning you attended. Given the time frame, I assume it was the purple and white one, my alma mater.

If not, then
U-G-L-Y you ain't got no alibi.
You're ugly Buchholz/Eastside/PK Younge.
You're ugly.

Posted by: Former Hogtowner, current Germantowner | June 20, 2005 3:34 PM | Report abuse

Not just a speech and a column, but a blog entry as well. Shameful...

Posted by: Joel | June 20, 2005 3:39 PM | Report abuse

You totally nailed it - I was in High School in Hogtown at the same time! Thanks for the chortle.

Posted by: Buchholz Grad | June 20, 2005 7:18 PM | Report abuse

"The really cool people even had cars."

Not quite. In the 1970's, the really cool people had vans.

Posted by: InvestiGator | June 20, 2005 8:56 PM | Report abuse

i sat on the curb drinking a TAB and waited for you in the parking lot. you never noticed.

Posted by: mc | June 20, 2005 9:18 PM | Report abuse

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