Matt Keenan commentary
As high school seniors across the county look forward to graduation, The Star brings you a reader favorite column from last spring.
This is the time of year where 18-year-olds sit through long lectures delivered by school board presidents and the like. Officially, it’s “high school graduation.” Unofficially, it’s “death by boredom.”
The speeches go like this: “Today you start off on a new journey, where you spread your wings, can be free as a bird and go out to change the world....” Thirty seconds later, the graduates are texting their buddies sitting two chairs away — “OMG. Wht a JK! Kll me!
If the day ever arrives (and it never will) where I give the graduation speech, no one would be bored. They may be mad, but certainly not uninterested. And since whatever an adult tells teenagers to do, they do the opposite, maybe this is one speech that actually might influence behavior in a positive way. So here we go.
“Grads, for the next four minutes, we’re going to make history. You’re going to hear something you haven’t heard in your 18 years. Your parents — and many others, no doubt — have told you how to succeed. The secrets to achievement. To heck with that! I’m going to tell you something very different: the secrets to failure, an eight-step program to ruin your life. If you follow these, you will be unemployed early and often, flunk out of college and lead a life of uncertainty, disappointment and misery — with the outside chance of never making it to celebrate your next birthday. So put down your phones and listen up. It could change your life.
“First, let’s talk about funerals. At your 5-year reunion, some of you won’t be here. You’ll be deceased. You will die from something you can prevent. One word: seatbelts. The leading cause of death for teenagers is car accidents. Seat belts save lives. So don’t wear them. That way when you get in your next accident — and it may even be tonight — you will be ejected from the car and land on the pavement, face first. That’s if you’re fortunate. Others will hit things, like light poles and maybe oncoming traffic. It’s a simple thing, a life-saving thing. Seatbelts.
“Second, cell phones. Call, text, e-mail and surf all day, every day. You won’t accomplish anything of substance, but you’ll sure feel busy. Facebook is the future. Waste time on it. Play FarmVille and pretend to be doing something constructive. Use phones around people you are trying to impress. Take calls when someone is in your presence, talking to you. And text and drive.
“Third, don’t listen to your parents. They are old and not cool.
“Fourth, clothes. People judge you by what you wear, so dress poorly. Sloppily. Ties are for losers who have jobs and get pay raises. Go with the open collar and show the gold chains. Your class ring defines you. Wave it around during interviews; pick your nose if necessary. Flip flops say you were born on a beach and want to work there selling inflatable giraffes to tourists at minimum wage. Bad impressions are your strong suit; exploit them.
“Fifth, in college, skip class. Ninety percent of life is showing up, so don’t. Sleep through lectures but not the final, because your goal is to fail. And you have to be there to do that.
“Sixth, go fake — ID, tan, laugh, hair, nails, teeth. Employers, professors, adults want genuine, sincere, authentic, real people, so be sure to disappoint them.
“Seventh, God gave you everything you need to succeed, so please abuse it. Tattoos, piercings for openers. McDonald’s won’t hire you with piercings, so guess what other, more desirable, jobs you will be doing. Don’t forget about your brain, so rage early and often in school. Use drugs, smoke and drink a lot. Know when to say ‘one more shot, please.’
“Eighth, faith. Who needs it? In college you’ll be way too busy sleeping to go to church like your parents always do. You know everything about everything already, so why waste time trying to talk to a higher power. Skipping church means you won’t meet other students who actually have a plan in life and are going places. Avoid winners!
“That’s it. Now go out and fail. Spread your wings and never go anywhere. I’m counting on you!”