The Weather

Fifth Place: My High School Commencement Address, or, I Know What Ashley Benson is Going to Do This Summer

Brian placed fifth in the inaugural Trop Short Fake College or High School Class President Commencement Address Contest.

To Superintendent Jones, Principal Strother, Vice Principal Dickman, members of the Board of Education, faculty, family, honored guests, guys we all know are gay but won’t announce it for another three to five years, unattractive girls who will discover after a semester away from home that the secret to happiness is a little more midriff and a little less morality, nerds who have not yet studied the chemical properties of vodka, anyone who isn’t currently Facebook-stalking a hot chick on an iPhone, and the rest of my possibly inebriated classmates:

Good evening and welcome to the graduation ceremony of the class of 2013.

Before I begin, I’d like to say thank you for that very flattering introduction, Vice Principal Dickman. God, even after four years, that name is still the gift that keeps on giving. I’d also like to give a special shout-out to the best biology teacher in America, Mrs. Sally Betteridge. Mrs. B., I’m so glad to see that you’re still quote-unquote happily married after those private extra-credit sessions we had going all of last year. Without you, I wouldn’t know the first thing about, ahem, anatomy.

Well, classmates, this is it. The night we’ve all been waiting for. Graduation. Or, as the ancient Navajo people called it, commencement. But what, exactly, are we commencing?

As your class president, and winner of four consecutive elections—thank you, dead voters of Cook County—I have the privilege of serving as the last speaker at this hallowed event. In just a few moments, I’ll stop talking and Mr. Strother will call you “graduates.” You’ll toss your caps in the air, and then pose for photographs in which the guys will flash gang signs while the girls purse their lips in that weird duck face that high school chicks seem to be genetically programmed to make. And then what?

Sure, like every good American, you’ll spend the summer drinking and whoring. Maybe a little video gaming, too. But after that?

We’ll all go to college, except for that creepy guy who was in my period two French class. You know him, right? The one who collects squirrel feet? There he is, in the third row behind the kid with the mole farm on his neck. Old Squirrelclaw will begin a prosperous career as a serial killer that will be cut short only when he starts to FedEx the remains of his victims to a scrappy, underappreciated rookie female police officer in Denver. She’ll be the only one who can put all the pieces together and catch our hometown homicidal maniac. Trust me, it’s going to make a hell of a star vehicle for Jennifer Lawrence. But the rest of us will head off to college, where we’ll try to gain more knowledge than weight. We’ll laugh, we’ll cry, we’ll experiment with sex, drugs, and Karl Marx. Then, one fine sunny day, almost four years from today, we’ll be released into the wild. What then, beer pong partners and Ugg lovers?

I’m here to give you the answer. Here it is. Do something.

It’s as simple as that. Just get out there and do something. What should you do? Why, I’m glad you asked that. If you are Ashley Benson, you should do me. And don’t wait for college graduation. Ashley, I am available every night between now and the next Mayan apocalypse.

If you’re every other sweaty scrub sitting on one of those metal folding chairs, I don’t really care what you do. Just accomplish something. Don’t sit around waiting for somebody to hand you a path to happiness. Don’t sit around waiting for your life to start. Take the bull by the horns, slit its throat, and process its freshly slain carcass into a tasty FutureBurger.

Some of you may be thinking, “I don’t know what I want.” You may be thinking, “My parents want me to be a doctor, or a stockbroker, or an organ donor.” Bro-skis and hoe-skis, don’t listen to them. They’ve had their chance. It’s your turn. Live your own lives. Figure out what you want and go after it like a crackhead who’s fresh out of rock.

And remember, it doesn’t matter what you do. You don’t have to save the world or cure cancer. Hell, you could invent a new cancer. A better cancer. A cancer that wants to avenge the chemotherapy deaths of its brother cancers. Your new cancer could be pissed and out for vengeance. Your cancer could even have a Eurotrash accent. That’d be something, wouldn’t it?

Just do something. Start a cult. Become a super villain. Tether your sleigh to a herd of kittens and mush them across this sprawling nation of ours. Just do something.

At the end of your life, will you want to look back and have regrets? Will you want to say, “Yeah, I was a junior claims manager for a regional boat insurance company?” Hell, no, friends. You’ll want to say, “Yeah, I launched a website that connects single moms looking for child-rearing tips with sixty-year-old men posing as other single moms.” You’ll want to say, “I invented sexually transmitted diseases that spread only among robots.” You’ll want to say, “I burned down my ex-girlfriend’s house, rebuilt it from scratch using government-subsidized, environmentally friendly materials, and burned it down again. And I filmed the whole thing, edited it into a two-hour movie and set it to the music of John Mayer.” Do you smell what I’m cooking, fellow graduates? It’s your future, and it’s going to be rare unless you get out there, grab the spatula, and flip it over.

It has been an honor to serve as your class president. I hope I made a small difference in your lives. I also hope that I’m not the only reason that there are no longer freshman interns. So, congratulations to you, the class of 2013. And to Ashley Benson, I just want you to know that I have a secret stash of Four Loko and a brand new digital video camera.

Seacrest out!

Read all of the winning entries. 

Brian Ross lives with his wife in Hoboken, New Jersey. His fiction and humor pieces at brianrross.com should be avoided at all costs.