I have a bona fide Podunk moment to share: Her Royal Highness is now a high school graduate. Iron Chef and I could not be more proud of this little she-devil valedictorian. Our Podunk family came to town, and we all cozied up on the Podunk High School bleachers for a cramped, but meaningful graduation ceremony. HRH’s speech as valedictorian was surprisingly appropriate, touching, and blissfully short as the gym temperature started to rise and deodorant products started to fail.
But then things started to get truly dicey. The commencement speaker, a 1985 Podunk High alum, was a complete and utter jackwagon. Because I know at least a few of my gentle readers believe that I am prone to exaggeration, I will now quote from Podunk’s newspaper of record, The Weekly Disappointment.
“[Jackwagon] told the class very personal memories, one was becoming a father in the 8th grade…[Jackwagon] continued to talk for quite a while, approximately 45 minutes of speech. He touched on all parts of his life and troubles he had and conquered. Many in the audience proceeded outside while [Jackwagon] continued to speak. He was even slipped a note to wrap up his speech and the gymnasium was becoming very hot.
Cheers were given to [Jackwagon] for concluding his speech and to [Her Royal Highness] for starting the senior slideshow.”
What the roving reporter failed to mention was the mayhem being caused in our 3′ x 5′ sauna bleacher box. Jackwagon’s speech went wrong for several reasons: 1) Jackwagon was under the impression that the soon-to-be high school graduates had the attention span to follow a 45-minute speech about nothing, 2) Jackwagon was under the impression that anyone in the audience cared what his 1985 wrestling record was, and 3) Jackwagon thought describing health ailments at a high school graduation would be as popular as describing health ailments over a lunch of pureed minute rice at a nursing home.
Good behavior in the audience started to erode after about 7 minutes of Jackwagon’s speech. Our sauna box section was no exception. My mother, the Notorious Babs, was part of a movement of people who tried offering a standing ovation to the speaker whenever he paused in an attempt to get him to quit. When he didn’t, Babs led the choir of “Oh No’s!” Not at all under their breath, by the way. My dad, Big L, was exhibiting uncommonly good behavior, until deep into a conversation about kidney ailments, Jackwagon brought one chapter of his endless story to conclusion by announcing a woman had very selflessly given him one of her kidneys to prolong his life. “I’d like to get my hands on her,” Big L burst out, Turret’s syndrome style.
The speech was an epic fail, without question. The muscle-headed speaker turned out to be not just an awful bore, but had also recently been charged with peddling steroids. We all got hot and crabby. But in retrospect, 45 minutes of nonsense is a small price to pay for the community bonding Podunk had an opportunity to experience at graduation. This was the kind of shared experience that usually requires a tornado, flood, or some sort of business that requires an insurance claim. Or the last episode of Seinfeld.
All in all, we got off easy. Congratulations, Royal Highness!