Column - Commentary
Memories, of the way we.....I forgetBy DAVE KIFFER
June 05, 2021
Now that I have reached the point of no return into Doddlerhood, I find that I can't remember all those high school, college, and obedience school graduations very well.
Actually, I do remember one of my first obedience school graduations.
I was about five or so and I heard my father call my mother by her middle name, So I called her that name as well. I didn't know that he only called her that when he wanted to make really mad. At the time, I was also not aware that even though it is made of paper that a rolled-up newspaper suddenly takes on the strength of nuclear pasta when it collides with my no-longer smirking face.
What's that you say?
What's "nuclear pasta?"
Is it something you can only get at 5-star Italian Restaurants like the kind Billy Joel sings about?
Nuclear Pasta is a term astrophysicists use to describe a type of degenerative matter (my favorite type) within the crusts of neutron stars. It is believed to be the strongest material in the universe. Of course, no one really knows, because neither you nor I nor any astrophysicist has ever actually been inside a neutron star to find out.
Well, since the matter is wholly theoretical it makes perfect sense to call it that. Astrophysicists say it is shaped like pasta. And neither you nor I can say it isn't.
But I digress.
That was only one obedience school graduation. There have been others.
When I was in college (the second, third or fourth time), a writing teacher assigned me to write a "fiction" piece about my high school graduation. That was easy.
Even though it was only about 15 years later, I had very little memory of the august (or May) event in 1977. I remember the "circumstance" that Leslie Morgan stepped on my foot as we "pomped" our way into the Kayhi Auditorium and I remembered that Gov. Jay Hammond was our commencement speaker.
At least I think he was.
Years later I worked for him and I mentioned the graduation. He had no memory of it.
"Son," he said (I was 21 at the time), "I give so many damned speeches."
And that was my first lesson in politics.
But I digress, again.
So why don't I remember much of my high school graduation?
Was I freaked out by the event?
Was there some trauma that I have erased?
Was I stoned?
Well, I wasn't freaked out. I don't remember it seeming like that big of thing. Now that I am a parent, I realize just what it takes to drag an offspring kicking and screaming to that point in their life.
I wasn't traumatized, because if something crazy had happened people would still be laughing about it 44 years later.
And, despite the fact it was the 1970s, I wasn't stoned.
Or drunk. Or even particularly well-hydrated.
Wait, I just remembered something else. It was really hot.
No scratch that. All graduations are really hot. The gowns are made out of enameled cast iron. They retain heat very well.
I think the reason that I don't remember much about my high school graduation is simple.
I. Am. Old.
Anyway, I remember one of my college graduations a little better.
It was in the old Boston Garden in front of 18,000 close personal friends and family. I was the student speaker and I said some funny things. People laughed. Heat stroke will make you do that. I got deafening applause because my speech was so short. Under three minutes.
That was my second political lesson.
It was also very hot.
Just about 98 degrees outside and no air conditioning in The Garden.
On the floor it was hotter than the breath of a quark-gluon plasma blast deep in the bowels of Switzerland. (Look it up. I can't explain EVERYTHING!).
And we were wearing the same enameled cast iron graduation gowns (different color).
I wish I had kept better notes. I'm sure there are some other things I would wish to remember.
Like what I said that was so funny at the Boston Garden 33 years ago.
I'm pretty sure it was not my mother's middle name.
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Contact Dave at firstname.lastname@example.org
Dave Kiffer is a freelance
writer living in Ketchikan, Alaska.