Monday, May 08, 2006

Sex, Money, and Power: What I'd like to say to the class of 2006

No one has invited me to speak at a graduation ceremony this year but if they did here’s what I’d say.

Ladies and gentlemen of the class of 2006, I skipped my two college graduation ceremonies because I had already spent enough time in class being bored. I assume you too have spent enough time listening to boring speakers so I’m going to address three attention-getting topics--sex, money, and power.

Only, I’m going to reverse the order and talk about sex last because I want to keep you and the administration on the edges of your seat.

Oh, yes, and as a bonus I’m going to talk about God too. I’m not sure what’s going to make the administration more nervous, me talking about sex or me talking about God.

But first money. Money is like water. You can only drink so much water in a day and you only need to spend so much money in a day. Drink 729 glasses of water in a day and you die. My basic attitude towards money is that the less you spend the less you have to earn which gives you more time for the important things in life like smiling at people.

Of course, if you stop drinking water you die too. So make a little, spend a little. That’s all you need to know about money.

All you need to know about power you can learn by becoming a parent. Give a newborn what she needs--warmth, food, touch, drink, and a clean diaper--and she grows. Now that’s power. But it’s usually not that simple. Often your new baby screams and you have no clue why. Here is your first lesson in power: people in power often do not know what to do. You turn to your husband or wife as your baby screams and you say, “What do we do now?” Here is your second lesson in power: people in power figure it out as they go.

Parents, be sure to thank your graduates. Not for making it through school but for the 729 lessons in good uses of power that they have given you.

Moving on to God. One day in 1956 when my Grandma was 53 she was reading the newspaper when she saw a story about a young mother in Grygla, the nearest town, who had died, leaving a husband, Elton Anderson, and two young girls, ages five and seven.

Grandma turned to Grandpa and said, “Oh, Emil, wouldn’t I just love to take care of those girls.”

A week later Grandpa, who was 20 years older than Grandma, had a stroke and died. A couple of weeks later Elton Anderson called Grandma and asked her to move to Grygla and take care of his two girls, Mayvonne and Donna. Many years later when Grandma told me this story she said, “God put those girls on my heart because he knew I was going to need something to do after Emil died.”

Graduates, a higher power has need of you.

Now, as promised, here’s what I have to say about sex. In the movie, Vanilla Sky, the Cameron Diaz character says to the Tom Cruise character, “Don't you know that when you sleep with someone, your body makes a promise whether you do or not?”

Graduates, get married and keep your promises.

Thank you very much, class of 2006, it’s been a pleasure.