Curtis Dahlgren
The commencement address you didn't get to hear this year -- YET
By Curtis Dahlgren
May 29, 2010

"Welcome to the real world." — someone once said

EVER SINCE THE FIRST DAY YOU ENTERED 4-YEAR-OLD KINDERGARTEN, you have been given the impression that you are the world's Hope for the Future. HA! You guys have been told that you are the most intelligent, the best-educated — the most highly evolved — generation in American history. WHAT A CROCK!

What would your teachers know about American history? They've never heard of such a thing. You guys wouldn't even be able to pass an eighth-grade graduation test from a one-room country school in the 1880s! Half of your teachers wouldn't be able to pass a urine test.

A funny thing happened to me on the way to this commencement. I ran into an old buddy and we stopped at the University Avenue Tap to read the speech my secretary had prepared for me. We laughed so hard we were rolling on the floor. The bartender, O'Houlihan, said, "Why don't you write your own speech?" It was such a novel idea that we bought a couple of rounds for the house. While O'Houlihan was looking for a pad of paper, we had everybody singing old tunes from the 1950s (you know, "Don't know much about history; don't know much about geography" — like so on and so forth).

Sorry I was a little late for the ceremony, but O'Houlihan never did find a pad of paper, so I'll just have to wing it.

THE FIRST THING I WANT TO SAY IS THAT YOU ARE NOT THE "MOST HIGHLY EVOLVED" GENERATION IN HISTORY! You are the first generation in history to be missing 1/3 of your classmates — because of abortion. You are missing half of the classmates you started high school with because they never graduated. BEING "ABOVE AVERAGE" IN A CLASS SUCH AS THIS ONE ISN'T SAYING MUCH!

You have been taught — every day since day care started — that the most important thing is to blend in — not to STAND OUT. People who stand out are "extremists"! YOU'RE MAAAIN — STREAMERS! Well I have news for you:

The people who built this country didn't just "go with the flow." The people who built this country didn't just "ride the wave." Lewis and Clark had to row upstream. The pioneers not only had to go uphill but they had to go against the prevailing westerly wind. They had to go against the grain. The concept of "self-esteem" had never occurred to them.

Even the Mayflower and the Santa Maria had to go against the prevailing westerly wind. They used it to their own advantage. It required a few tacks and turns, but they got to their destinations because they weren't just "middle-of-the-roaders."

This country was founded by people who didn't "fit in"! The Puritans weren't "popular" in Europe. They weren't just "blowin' in the wind" like thistle seeds. They got to their destination. Look that word up sometime (it has something to do with destiny).

The sons of the Pilgrims climbed the Appalachians and the Rockies and the Sierras. Some of them didn't make it. The Oregon Trail didn't have any counseling clinics, but some of the Pioneers made it all the way north to Alaska. Their conscience was their compass.

They weren't watching Entertainment Tonight or American Idolatry. They were busy enough without those things. It was called SURVIVAL.

Raise your hands if your teachers ever told you anything about Donner Pass or Jeremiah Johnson or Sutter Creek. Helloooo? Is anyone out there? I don't see any hands out there.

Raise your hands if anyone out there can explain the difference between a compound sentence and a complex sentence, AND explain when to use WHOM instead of WHO. Helloooooooooo?

The kids out there in flyover country in the 1880s all could have raised their hands — and they were taught how to read, write, and do arithmetic by teen-aged school marms! If those teachers were here right now, 2/3 of you would get paddled for not paying attention to the speaker. You're listening to hip-hop on your music thingies. Your mothers are beaming with pride today, even though you wouldn't be able to pass a blood test.


The only reason you guys turned out the way you did is because of lawyers. If you guys "feel threatened" or even "sense anger," you go hire a lawyer. The principal is the one who ends up in jail these days, not the juvenile delinquents.

By the way, do you know the difference between a lawyer and a dead skunk in "the middle of the road"? The skunk has skid marks in front of it.

We're not allowed to teach you right and wrong anymore. If we threw an eraser at you, you'd call the cops AND a lawyer! If this speech is too boring for you, just call the cops. Have your lawyer call my lawyer.

Today is the first day of the rest of your life, and it may be your last chance to hear an adult tell you the truth. Welcome to the real world, and lotsa luck.

I apologize to the Real World out there for the way you guys turned out,



[This is an adaptation of "The graduation speech you're not likely to hear this year." ]

© Curtis Dahlgren


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Curtis Dahlgren

Curtis Dahlgren is semi-retired in southern Wisconsin, and is the author of "Massey-Harris 101." His career has had some rough similarities to one of his favorite writers, Ferrar Fenton... (more)


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