My kids are growing up, and I don’t like it. My son has now been around for two decades, and my 7-year-old girl will be turning 25 in July. At least it seems like it. Her latest attempt at adding years to her looks is by wearing those fake glasses that have lenses that don’t do anything. They look pretty good on her, and she knows it; but I told her that it’s a slap in the face to all of us people who have to wear glasses to be able to see. She looked down over the nosepiece of her new spectacles and informed me that she really didn’t care.
Last weekend, the boy received his associate’s degree from Spoon River College in Canton, Illinois. He really didn’t want to go through the graduation ceremony, but unfortunately for him, he has a mother that did. He may be 20, but he wasn’t going to win this battle.
It turned out to be a beautiful day, and we had a nice ride down to Canton. When I say we, I mean myself, my wife, my four-eyed daughter and my proud parents who wouldn’t miss going to something like this. On the way, we followed, met or encountered in some way, absolutely every piece of farm equipment the state of Illinois has to offer. Even though we left home fairly early, by the time we made it to my son’s house, it was time for him to get going.
The graduation was held at a location that was approximately 10-15 minutes from the actual college in the small town of Cuba, Illinois. Since we already had a full car, we took separate vehicles to the ceremony. The plan was that we were to follow him, since he knew where we were going. Inevitably, we somehow got split up. No big deal. It was just my son that needed to be there early. The rest of us still had plenty of time to arrive and find good seats.
However, for some reason, his cap and gown had ended up in our trunk, not his. My advice to all graduates this year ... never ever let your cap and gown out of your sight. You’ve earned them; you keep them. Trust me. It’s just better that way.
As we ambled around Cuba, looking for the graduation venue, we received a couple of cell phone calls from the graduate wondering where the heck we were. Actually I think he was much more concerned about the location of the gown and his funny little hat than he was about the whereabouts of five close family members, but I understood his predicament.
We pulled into the parking lot at about the same time he was supposed to be inside the building. So as my wife was approaching the curb to drop my parents off by the front door, I could see my son striding through the rows of automobiles to get to us. As I held the door open for my mom, he had my wife pop the trunk to get the aforementioned cap and gown.
As he picked up his garments, he decided he was going to throw the gown on right there in the parking lot. So he tossed the hat back in the trunk as he started putting his arms through the voluminous sleeves of the gown. I grabbed up the hat and shut the trunk, so that my wife could proceed to park the car while Mr. College finished dressing on the sidewalk in front of the building. Everything was going to work out fine.
The moment the trunk lid slammed shut, I happened to notice the tassel was not connected to the mortarboard hat. In fact, it was nowhere to be seen. My son and I looked wide-eyed at each other as we imagined him not having a tassel to push over to the other side. I believe that might nullify the whole two-year degree. Hopefully the tassel was still in the trunk of the car which was just now starting to pull away from us.
Not wanting to cause a big fuss in front of the crowd of people who had come to see their friends and/or loved ones graduate from an institution of higher learning, I utilized a subtle technique in attempting to get my wife to stop the car. Instead of yelling “Hey!! Stop the car!!!” and drawing any unwanted attention, I instead started following her bumper whispering, “Stop. Stop. Please stop.” and making strange hand gestures in hopes she would see me in the rearview mirror. She apparently did not. Or maybe she did. Either way, it worries me.
Meanwhile, my son followed as he continued to put on his royal blue graduation gown. Not to be left out, my bespectacled daughter also joined in on the slow-speed, silent chase through the bustling parking lot.
There we were, the three of us, me, silently whispering “stop” to myself while waving about my “jazz hands” ... my son, basically putting on the equivalent of a blue, light-weight summer dress ... and my daughter, wearing glasses that she doesn’t need, briskly walking behind an oblivious sage-green Mercury Montego that was going approximately one-half miles-per-hour faster than we were. We looked like a trio of crazed, dressed-up speedwalkers that didn’t make the cut for the 1976 Montreal Summer Olympics. Except slower.
A quarter of a mile later, we caught up to her. Actually, she parked the car. She wasn’t sure why we were there. I explained the situation. We all crossed our fingers as she popped the trunk and were happy to see the tassel laying on the donut-sized spare tire in all it’s tassely glory.
He made it to the ceremony on time, and everything else went just fine, although I think I saw several other of the graduation-goers pointing and snickering at us as we took our seats on the gymnasium floor. Jerks.
My brand new college graduate is looking forward to an exciting future as he prepares to go off to Illinois State University next fall. He’ll probably do what 90 percent of most graduates do and hang that trouble-making tassel from his rear-view mirror.
For those of you who don’t know, the rear-view mirror is that reflective thing stuck in the middle of your windshield.
You can contact Wallace at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can follow him on his blog at http://gregwallaceink.blogspot.com.