Went to my baby sister's graduation this weekend... (13 May 2004)

…and Congrats to Laura on graduate Magna Cum Laude from Rice. She’s an incredible girl, and I’m proud of her.

I had a nice time at her graduation too. You may wonder – how could someone as borderline-ADD as me sit in the same place for three hours and enjoy it? Here’s how:

1) To my left sat my grandfather, Gregor, who likes to cut up and make comments every bit as much as me, giving me a comrade in arms. He helped kill about 30 minutes.

2) I sent text messages to my sister. About 20 of them. My sister didn’t have her cell phone, so she didn’t get to read them until later, but I didn’t know this, and even if I did, that wasn’t the point. This little enterprise commanded at least an hour of my time. Some samples:

 So when do you walk through the arch? (Rice students walk through an arch in their Quad when they enter as freshmen, which they do not walk through again until graduation. Nerds…)
 What do you do after you sit?
 Rise!
 What do you call those little seeds that you find in bread?
 Ryes!
 What’s the name of the actor who played the roommate in Notting Hill?
 Rhys!

And the kicker…

 What do you call that stuff you get with Chinese food?
 Noodles.

3) We heard the commendably brief speech by Commencement speaker Alberto Gonzales, who serves as special counsel for the President. He spoke of growing up in humble circumstances, getting his law degree at Rice, and working in the White House. It was actually pretty good, and took up 15 minutes.

4) My grandfather and I tried to find the shortest and longest names in the graduating class. Shortest name: Yu Wu. Longest name: (Something) Robert Henry (Something else) Van Borssum III. This dude graduated Summa Cum Laude, and it took what seemed like an eternity to announce his graduation with an MBA. I’m curious to see what the vanity plate on his BMW will read…

5) I look back at the statue of Will Rice, the man who left the money that founded the university that bears his name, on a pedestal, which shows him stately sitting and staring toward the festivities, and I remember that Will Rice IS ACTUALLY BURIED IN THE PEDESTAL. That’s right – THERE IS A DEAD GUY IN THE MIDDLE OF THE QUAD OF RICE UNIVERSITY. I found this unbelievably creepy, and commented on it at length for about 15 minutes. A couple of other tidbits I picked up on the late Mr. Rice and his statue during this time:

 Will Rice was actually murdered by another man after his fortune in 1901. The plot was found out, the man brought to justice, which then saved Will Rice’s fortune to be used to found Rice University.
 The most famous prank in Rice history involved a group of students somehow dislodging the huge bronze statue and rotating so that it faced precisely in the opposite direction when it was discovered the next day. Nerds. Creepy, creepy Nerds.

6) I tried to figure out what I was going to yell in the two seconds of silence after they called out my sister’s name. My Meemaw got worried, and told me “Now don’t you embarrass Laura Jean!” That gave me the idea – I would yell “Way to go, Laura Jean!” at the top of my lungs. My grandmother thought this was funny. 15 more minutes overwith, and my sister will finally take the stage…

7) The man at the lectern calls out “Laura Jean Laughlin, Magna Cum Laude.” My sister walks the stage. I yell “WAYTOGOLAHHH-JAAAAAAHHHHH!” The three rows behind me are giggling – I’ve hit 80+ on the Unintentional Comedy Scale easy. 15 seconds used.

8) Began discussing where to eat lunch with my family. No decision even close to being reached. The remaining 30 minutes of the ceremony expire.

One last observation. Not a single Graduate in the crowd of approximately 800-1000 threw their hat. Not a one. Has this become passé? If I’ve spent four years of my life in as intense a place as Rice slaving toward a prestigious degree, and have scaled the mountain, I’m going to throw my friggin’ hat as high as I can. What kind of place is this? Nerds…


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