Editor’s note – Patrick Benjamin, a Trop regular, is not eligible for Trop’s commencement address contest. That’s for new people. Not old people like Patrick. But Patrick cannot help but want the spotlight. He’s a showman, a man born for spectacle. So he wrote this commencement address and sent it to us and asked us if, allowing for the fact that he “were eligible,” if he “would win?” We said probably not, but that we hoped he’d keep writing for us anyway, because sometimes perfectionism is self-defeating. Maggie Mull, however, being an altruist, decided to help Patrick out and provide him with notes, which are in bold.
Standing before you today…
(note: it is possible they may offer you a stool. be prepared to adjust your intro accordingly.)
…I feel it necessary to mention that The Oxford English Dictionary tells us in its first entry regarding the term that a commencement is, “the action or process of commencing; beginning; time of beginning.” This has the ring of truth.
(note: could not locate “the ring of truth” in the OED. Yahoo! search defines it as “ceremonial falopia braided and lain at a Magii’s hearth;” please verify.)
… I stand (or stool) before you today to say to you that the geniuses at the OED first found the word—whose etymological root was pulled from Old French, commencier, into the language I now stand before you speaking—in the following passage:
c?1250 Serm. in O.E. Misc. 30 Þis was þe commencement of þo miracles of ure louerde …
(note: VERY effective hook! More like this!!!)
… Today I stand (or stool) before you not knowing what this means, or how to accurately pronounce any of it, save the word in question: Commencement…
(note: might be funny to do this part with Mario’s accent? like, “not-a knowing whatta this-a means or how-a I’m-a gonna to pronounce-a it!” and you could twirl a pizza or wear a chef’s hat? keep it fun! Mario-Kart is still doper than assassin’s creed 3.)
…Not sitting nor crouching (dependent on stool), but standing, I do today say unto you that commencement has a number of synonyms …
(note: potential for prop joke here related to cinnamon.)
…Some of which include: admission (that’s what she said, ha!), alpha, birth(that’s what she said), bow, celebration, convocation, countdown, curtain-raiser (THATS WHAT SHE SAID), dawn (that’s her name LOL), dawning, graduation, initiation, kickoff, opener (that’s what all the priests said at the same time), opening (that’s what I said), outset, proem, services (that’s what her flyer said), start, starting point, and tee (shirt) off (JK that’s what I said to her!! LOL).
These were found, as so much is, on thesaurus.com.
(note: please explain what this means using totally other words.)
A great lesson is to be learned here, as we are about to set off into a vague and clumsy future full of pain, death, regret, and sandwiches (specify, e.g. “sandwiches full of swiss cheese which is full’a holes.” [THAT’S WHAT SHE SAID!!!]). That lesson is, use a thesaurus.
(note: potential for prop joke here related to dino-thesaurus??)
This day I am vertical in my shoes (that’s what she said) using my mouth (that’s what she said) to make sounds (that’s what she said) to create meaning and that meaning is this: When you are, as you inevitably will be, faced with an impossible task, use someone else’s words to relate a verisimilitude of substance.
(note: the word verisimilitude may be confusing after imitating an Italian accent. sounds like a pasta. people could get confused. better use props to explain. keep airhorn and Lakers shirt ready in case the crowd turns.)
A wise man once said, “We found a great rhythm. Contractions started kicking in. I sat there with her, right between her legs. We got tribal on it, we danced to it! I was DJ-ing this Brazilian music.” And that man was and continues to be Matthew McConaughey, in this case discussing the birth of his son, Levi.
(note: this is a different language, yes? better to omit those kinds of highbrow references.)
… In the midst of this diurnal course in which we are currently located I am neither supine nor prostrate…
(note: prostrate feels a little gross, careful.)
…not beneath nor above or even beside you, but before you I stand…
(note: they might give you a fucking stool, so stop.)
…and say unto thee, and to us all, with a heart heavy as it is hopeful, congratulations!
The world will know us as people…
(note: change to “papal” and put on Pope’s hat? additional possibility, change to “fable.” Tell a story.)
… And people we will be until we are no longer people. Meaning, until we have died. But until that death, until then my friends, my brothers and sisters in battle, let us live. Let us go forth, get jobs, buy mattresses, listen to music, meet for coffee, wear clothes, shop at Target and Best Buy and Subway and Nordstrom Rack and Frederick’s of Hollywood! Let us make to-do lists! …
(note: all VERY powerful, though a little fruity? don’t be so fruity. best editorial advice I can give and I’ve given it countless times.)
(note: seriously stop. you’ll have a stool. and you fucking should. this speech is like eight hours long. it’s dumb long, needs a lot of work [that’s why they pay me the big bucks and you’re welcome], also super-fruity but still flirty somehow. I take back everything except all the stuff about the stool. they’re giving you a stool. I’ll give you a stool. THAT’S WHAT SHE FUCKING SAID.)
… here today in front of you today before you now in the present with my mouth talking telling you that the key to happiness…
(note: could not locate “the key to happiness” in the OED. Yahoo! search defined it as, “one of Nilar’s seven amulets, hidden by Tangdull, found by Jared, and rehidden in the Nifkin of Dorin.” please verify.)
…is not in the incremental promotions or the envious praise of colleagues. Honest-to-goodness happiness is not found in books or movies. It is not found in the overcoming of great obstacles. No. Happiness is found in successfully calling in sick. Let us go forth as ambassadors of progress and call in sick…
(note: oh boy. thought I’d seen the worst of it with ye olde Lizzie Gilbert. really? you really wanna read this out loud? there’s no mention of Prince, you don’t talk about any cool TV shows or ‘za toppings. amateur status. we’re gonna pass but send us something when you get a hell of a lot better at this.)
(JK! GOT YOU!)
(it’s super good and we’re so stoked you’re in the running to speak at GCC. pack your lanyard—this shit’s happening.)
Patrick Benjamin is a writer living near Los Angeles. He lives with his sister and grandmother.
Maggie Mull is a writer and artist, born, raised and living in Los Angeles. She is the creator of Doppelthingers, an online collection of things that look like other things.