Wednesday, December 14, 2005

The way to do it

We've all been there: graduation ceremonies that never seem to end.

They start late, there are 274 different speakers and some of them are so in love with themselves or the sound of their own voice or think what they have to say is so earth shattering, they don't know when to shut he hell up.

The warning sign a gasbag is going to start yammering away endlessly is always their opening sentence in which they say they will be brief. You sit there for hours, or what seems like hours or perhaps even days, bored out of your mind.

Then, finally, each graduate's name is called. Applause (if any is allowed) is polite, broken occasionally by (Oh, the horror!) a family member daring to yell out the graduate's name. In order to further eliminate any disruption, the taking of photographs by "family members or guests" is forbidden under penalty of getting tossed out on their butt strongly discouraged.

With great decorum, each graduate accepts their diploma . . . then the next graduate . . . then the next . . . The graduate shakes hands with whomever, while posing, freezing for a moment so that the official photographer can capture the moment, which can later be recaptured for a fee by the graduate in various packages.

And then to close the ceremony, the next batch of windbags starts in.

If you're like me, long before they do I gotta pee. Bad. But on and on they drone, which only magnifies my focus which long ago became centered on which will give out first: The speakers sucking so much air out of the room they finally keel over from the lack of oxygen, or my aching bladder.

Herself was one of 168 who graduated Monday night and as if they don't already have enough to do, I'd like to suggest that in the future all graduations be run by Registered Nurses and the faculty and staff that train them.

The doors opened at promptly at 6 pee-em for the seating of family and guests. I don't have a clue how many of "us" there were but I'd guess close to a thousand.

(While others tried to get seats closer to the front, Herself's immediate family, Da Kid and I snagged and took up two rows way in back in one section so that we could all sit together.)

At 6:30 the lights dimmed and exactly as scheduled, the ceremony began.

(Before it did and just before the lights went down, I had a quick chance to look at the program. Fifteen speakers PLUS a musical presentation? I knew I was doomed.)

Speaker after speaker got up and after saying they would be brief (Oh dear gawd, NO!), actually was.

Not only were they all brief, but interesting, informative and encouraging. Entertaining, even!

Unlike other graduations, the dignitaries weren't talking about themselves or pontificating at the graduates or their families and guests.

It was kind of an affirmation among them, almost one generation passing the torch on to another, that we'd, the family members and guests, were permitted to share in.

We know how hard you worked to get here tonight. We know not only because we were there with you every step of the way these last two years, but because tonight you're sitting exactly where we once did.

That wasn't one-way communication, either. The graduates because of the close contact they'd had with them, obviously knew and respected the dignitaries.

It was also fun.

As soon as the graduates began entering in the processional, during the ceremony itself and finishing with the recessional, the cameras everyone in the audience came packing started going off. Some I thought might float out of their seats and disappear overhead because of the bundles of celebratory balloons they were desperately trying to control, some with little success.

(Spellcheck doesn't like "celebratory." Tough.)

Instead of a somber march across the lit stage, some of the graduates gave a thumb-ups or showed their happiness (delicate cough) in other ways, encouraging even louder cheers from fellow graduates, and those sitting in the dark.

And it was dark in there so I can't be certain, but I think I may have spotted one group sitting together, rising from their seats and sitting back into them, in a wave.

This was a celebration in every sense of the word. The way all graduations should be.

It became suddenly quiet, though, when one of the speakers asked not only the graduates but those in the audience who were also nurses to stand, and join her in reciting The Nightingale Pledge.

I don't know how many were seated overhead and above us in the balconies, too, but I do know from where I was seated way in back, the number I could see who rose in the dark to speak almost as one . . . well, there were plenty.

And then it was all over and I was back out on the sidewalk.

That's when I realized my aged bladder had not screamed at called to me even once. Surprised? No, amazed.

I glanced at my wristwatch for the very first time.

From the time the doors opened including seating, fifteen speakers, one musical presentation and the pinning of 168 Registered Nurses had taken one hour and thirty-five minutes.


Note: It's dark, I'm way in back and there's flashes going off everywhere. I'm shooting blindly.

It's a rotten pic, I know, but if you see the line of white uniforms, Herself's in it.


Blogger ABFreedom said...

Very cool and congrats ...

i can sympathize with your first part, been there with the kids, and it was a killer.... my own grad was spent in the bar... close to the restroom... lol .. was never big on public functions.

10:42 PM  

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