I have paid ninety dollars for a blanket that I will wear in front of thousands of people. My name will be called, and to almost everyone present, that will be as important as the name of the waitress they didn’t tip because their eggs were over medium instead of over easy. A few people in the crowd will look down on the stage when I walk across, they’ll see me in my square hat and odd blanket, and they will think “hey, neat!” Or something like that. My university’s president will talk for approximately three months. I will regret not having had the ingenuity to hide a flask in my blanket. Several people of distinction will talk about why they are distinguished and how I, a graduating person, can be distinguished just like them if I do exactly as they did in the exact circumstances in which they cultivated that distinguishment while having the same distinguished connections who will give me a job paying more than I will ever earn. I’ll wonder how many pretzels I could fit into the long tubes sticking out from my sleeves.
The president will talk again. This time, her speech will be brief to allow time for the undergraduates’ names to be called. The undergraduate names will bec called. This will last until the next solar eclipse. The ceremony will be done. Thousands will perish as bodies flood the parking lots. A single traffic officer with a ticket quota will see an opportunity. I will think about dinner and how to obtain a permit to operate a bulldozer. Then I will eat dinner. People I care about will be near me, and they will eat dinner too. We will talk. They will say things like, “Hey, that school thing you did was neat.” I will say, “Yes.” Then, we will go away. I will go home, and then I will sit, and sit, and sit, and sit, and sit, and then 4 weeks will have gone by, and I will check the mail, and a piece of paper will have arrived, and maybe it will have my name spelled right, but I really don’t care. It will finally be over. I will put the paper on the fridge, and that will be that.
I will spend the next 52 weeks wondering when someone will next assign me homework or order revisions or explain to me in a dimly-lit office that at the work I put in wasn’t good enough because I didn’t do it two weeks in advance while also building homes for underprivileged puppies. I will spend the following 52 weeks recovering and relating strongly to bits of gum stuck to the sidewalk. I will remember the expensive blanket in my closet, then I will forget it again, and then I will use it to wrap a monitor for a computer I don’t use much but might if my laptop breaks, but my laptop won’t break, so the blanket will be good for packing.
I will be older and still teaching. I will see another grad student just starting their program. I will club them over the head and leave them in the desert. They will be safe.