John placed second in the inaugural Trop Short Fake College or High School Class President Commencement Address Contest.
My Esteemed Classmates of the Woodrow Wilson High School Class of 2013,
Most of you know me as the girl who lost her virginity to the Ben Franklin impersonator, a man who I asked to sign my tit with his quill pen when he visited our history class, a man whose real name is Chet, a man who calls his dick “The Glass Ceiling” even though a more appropriate nickname for it would be “Can of Soup.”
So yes, I’m your valedictorian, book smart, with straight As and all that, but definitely clueless about boys and men. I blame this lack of street smarts on my parents. First, I blame my mother, Carol, who endlessly pressured me to excel in the classroom, but who once told me I could get pregnant from eating a pudding cup too lustily. Next, I blame my father, Ron, who before he left us, said my goiter looked exactly like an Adam’s Apple and that I should blame my mother for this fact because her family tree was full of cousin fuckers who ate their pudding like it was going to get them pregnant.
Classmates, the first piece of wisdom I’d like to impart upon you tonight is this—when Ben Franklin/Chet calls you a few days after you lose your virginity in that motel room on the interstate that’s infested with box elder bugs, don’t pick up the phone. Why? Because Chet will prattle on about how he was a communications and theatre double major at NYU and he’ll wonder what the hell he’s doing with his life now, going to high school classrooms dressed in an itchy wig and gamey pantaloons and saying things like “Well done is better than well said.” Yes, he gets to occasionally break the cherries of weird bookish chicks who like pithy quotes and electrical storms, but is that really a perk? While you’re talking to Chet, he’ll tell you he’s been thinking about suicide a lot lately, but in between his suicidal thoughts he’s been thinking a lot about you. Next he’ll wonder if you’d like to come over to his apartment for dinner tonight. Please?
My fellow departing seniors, no matter how much Chet begs, do not go to his apartment. Why? Because when you arrive, a woman named Lisa will be sitting on his couch and Lisa will look like an older version of you, a little more leathery and a little less Adam’s Appley, but with the same French braids and the same bewildered look on her face. Chet will hand you a wine cooler and he’ll sit you and Lisa next to each other and say things like “Instead of cursing the darkness, let’s light a candle,” or “A penny saved is a penny earned” as he tries to get you and Lisa in the mood. When you don’t take his hint, Chet will press your face into Lisa’s face and you’ll suddenly be making out with an older, sadder version of yourself and your tit will start feeling all weird and throbby, mostly from Chet’s scratchy tongue, but maybe also from some infection you got when Chet signed it with his dirty quill pen.
My third piece of advice is this—when you run to your car after it’s all finished, don’t forget your purse on his kitchen counter. If you do, you’ll have to go back in and hear Lisa calling Chet’s dick “The Glass Ceiling” over and over and then you’ll drive home wondering what your place is in this stupid world is, where if you gave a blowjob to one of the Framers of the Constitution you’d only make seventy percent of what a man doing this same exact job gets.
My esteemed classmates, I’d like to leave you with one last thought as we take these intrepid steps toward our bright futures. Strangely enough it’s a quote from Old Poor Richard himself: “Many people die at twenty-five but aren’t buried until seventy-five.” Please think about this quote as you take your boundless energy out into the real world. Life is confusing and cruel and you’re going to need to be patient to achieve your dreams. Sometimes life will throw a wicked curveball at you and the only way you’ll be able to make sense of everything is to grab a spoon and sit down at your kitchen table and scarf down chocolate pudding cup after chocolate pudding cup until your stomach is so fucking full that it feels exactly like there’s a goddamn baby squirming around inside you.
First place will appear tomorrow. Read all of the winning entries.
John Jodzio's work has been featured in a variety of places including This American Life, McSweeney's, and One Story. He's the author of the short story collections, Knockout, Get In If You Want To Live, and If You Lived Here You’d Already Be Home. He lives in Minneapolis.