I discovered, on Thursday night, that my last alarm clock, my phone, doesn't make any noise. This was unfortunate, since I had to be up at 6am to go to my sister's graduation, and then on to other things. So I knew it wouldn't be a good idea to stay up through the night, as I normally would. Fortunately, a search on yahoo! led me to a software alarm clock that even loaded up an mp3.
So, securing four hours of sleep, I awoke to "Kathryn" by Black Tape For A Blue Girl, and proceeded to my parents'. I then journeyed with them to the SDSU Open Air Theatre, the same place I saw Morrissey a year or two ago.
We sat in the sun and listened to more than six hundred names get called off and listened to bad speeches. The valedictorian's speech was amusing and, since he'd clearly meant it to be, was pretty good. The preceding speech, by the salutatorian, was another matter. She began with something like, "This year, we said farewell to six friends on the TV series Friends . . ." and I was thinking, "Please be a jest, please be a jest, please go on to say, 'But to us acedemics, this barely caused a ripple in our lives which were much larger, and now I'd like to quote from some truly great works of art . . .'" But, no. The conclusion of Friends became her metaphor for the graduating class. How so? Something like, "If we were all on a television series, I'm sure viewers would be just as sad to say farewell to us." This was delivered with no irony or really humour.
Gods. Are my expectations for humanity too high? I'm starting to think so. But my gut reaction at the time was, "this person is supposedly the second highest ranked student in the school. Is this really what's in her head? Can't we do better than that?"
Oh, we can. The valedictorian's speech was fine, after all. He was a person out to do something. He wanted to create a certain effect and did it. This salutatorian clearly had the stink of one who's far less interested in doing things than she was in getting things done. "Do this junk to get this grade, this title, this to pass go."
I said congratulations to my sister afterwards--everyone was too hot and tired to be particularly emotional. We went to a very nice restaurant right on the beach with a beautiful view called The Marine Room. The menu said Gregory Peck had eaten there once.
I asked my sister about the salutatorian and my sister had said that she had indeed known her and not liked her. My sister said the girl was constantly trying to show everyone how intelligent she was, "and," my sister added, "obviously she is . . ."
"No," I said. "Don't say it's obvious. It's definitely not obvious."
"Well, she has one of the highest GPAs--"
"That is not an accurate measure of intelligence."
I could see my mother and her exchanging one of those looks that says, "Oh, he's got a strange opinion again. Let's just let him be so there's no argument." Which, of course, implied they disagreed with me and I'm afraid propriety and peacekeeping have lower priority for me than the quest for illumination. I didn't think I was wrong, but if I was, I'd much rather have learned why than have to turn everything off. And if I was right, that there was something more important to learning than GPA, then it was certainly something my sister needed to take to heart, particularly, I figured, this day of all days.
So I said, "My whole point is that this girl's speech showed she wasn't very smart, and that the school system was in error."
No one said anything in reply, the subject was quickly changed, and I suppose I won't know if my words meant anything to anyone, but I figure that's as much as I'm gonna get out of it. I figure I did my duty, though.
We later went to see The Stepford Wives. Not a perfect movie, but it was a lot of fun.