(Graduation March plays; assembly stands; Wayne mounts the podium and, after a pause, indicates that everyone remain standing)
Greetings, class of 2016. I have a number of these keynote thingydingys to deliver today, so you’ll have to excuse the parsimonious nature of my remarks. Note, however, that their brevity should in no way indicate a lack of intellectual weight, or indifference toward the noteworthy achievement on the part of you, the student body that we have gathered here to fête.
It has been a great honor mentoring you these past four years, and you will always hold a special place in my heart as the first class to matriculate having had received four full years of Pro Tips. Congratulations! You’ve earned it. While some of you may dread the prospect of heading out into the world without Wayne standing right behind you, offering sage council, snappy comebacks and the occasional unverified social security number, know that, and I quote: “Though we’re far apart, you’re always in my heart, you are not alone.” Anyone know who said that? Anyone? No history majors out there, huh? LOL. Seriously though, it was the Rev. Martin Burger King, M.D. Jr. You guys should know that.
But we’re not here to talk about the past, we’re here to speculate on your future. And frankly, it’s looking pretty, well … medium. Medium well, rather. As in “nearly overcooked.” The Middle East is in flames, China’s economy is all but dried up, the wolves of Europe are devouring one another while Russia licks its chops, and global emerging markets are only “emerging” in the sense that a turd you’re desperately prairie-dogging en route to the toilet is emerging. Look kids, no one hates to say it more than me, but this might be a good time to start thinking about grad school. Seriously, what are you going to do with a B.A. in philosophy, anyway? Write an advice column? Please. I know my assessment of your dismal future probably isn’t what you were hoping to hear today, but if I sent you out there and said, “Everything is going to be just fine! Don’t worry about it!” — what kind of mentor would I be?
The fact of the matter is you need to arm yourselves. Not with knowledge and thick skin, but actual armaments. Armageddon is coming and woe unto those who face the whirlwind unprepared. I’m looking at you, Pooter, and you too, Madison. You two know what I see when I look at you? Roast turkeys, like the ones that appear in a thought bubble in the cartoons. Can you see it above my head? Because I can practically smell it. I’m not advocating cannibalism here, but let’s be totally honest: There’s almost certainly going to be a nontrivial amount of cannibalism in your future. Oh nuts! Look at the time … I need to jet. It looks like we burned through the Q and A portion, but you guys know where to find me: askwaynediamante at gmail.com. Thanks again for having me and break a leg — you’ll be easier to catch! YaYa class of 2016!
(Wayne turns to President Harreld, kisses him with a dramatic dip, then unplugs the mic and tosses it into the assembly; exits stage with arm high in the air, making the symbol for “peace”) — Wayne Diamante
This article was originally published in Little Village issue 199.