Special good wishes go out this Sunday...


Special good wishes go out this Sunday morning to those who later today -- or some day soon -- will cross a stage, clasp a hand and proudly walk away with a sheepskin.

If you are among the honorees, please refrain from punching your fist toward the sky and bellowing "Yesssss!" while onstage. You are required to wait until the band has honked its way through the dreary school anthem, a tune nobody -- including the university president -- knows the words to. (Hint to those truly fortunate to be graduating today: The lyrics can be found on the back of the program you'll be fanning yourself with. The first line invariably begins, "Hail to thee . . . something, something, something.")

Graduations are wonderful because they provide know-it-alls like free license to give advice to those forced to wear tasseled pizza boxes on their heads. Next spring, I'm setting up a 900 number for this stuff, so pay attention.

1) Take a moment to thank your parental units for their sacrifice and patience, because there were days, Bunkie, when you were a royal pain. Do the following:

Kiss Mom after the ceremony; it won't kill you and it won't lower your friends' esteem for you too much. Mom is, after all, the person who squeezed you down the birth canal, defying all the laws of physics. You owe her big time.

As for Dad, tell him you are sorry for everything you did wrong in your whole life, including the stuff you never 'fessed up to regarding his car.

2) Grab a teacher and give him or her a hug. You may not believe it, but the good ones really cared about you, and they'll miss you and wonder where life will take you. If you become a big success, they'll claim they knew it all along. If you get indicted, they'll disavow any knowledge of you -- so don't get involved with insider trading or land deals in the Everglades.

3) And one last piece of advice: For you high school graduates heading to college, leave that sack of dirty laundry in your dorm room when you come home for Thanksgiving break, you lazy bum.

For a mother's reflection on graduation day, please see today's essay on Page 16.

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